Understanding child labour in agriculture: lessons from ECLT studies
April 3, 2018
Today, the ILO estimates that 152 million children are in child labour. Overall, 71 percent of these children are working in agriculture, most them doing unpaid work with their families. The ILO statistics provide an important standard, but it is important to know more about child labour to understand the possible limitations of these numbers.
ECLT has put together data from 9,936 children and 5,481 household heads in our projects in rural communities in Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, which give us two important takeaways:
Children’s work is transient and seasonal. This affects how we count workers.
The ILO estimates are based on surveys that look at children’s activities in a reference week. The work done on family farms, however, changes greatly during the year, depending on crops and seasons. Though surveys can give an important glimpse into situations faced by children, looking at a single week does not take into account that work levels change depending on the time of year. For researchers and practitioners, it is important to note that children may work across different crops and at different rates during the year. Cross-sectional surveys may take information from a particularly high or low period of work and then lead to estimates that are not accurate during most of the year.
Figure 1 provides an example of children’s involvement in hazardous agricultural work in Indonesia. The data shows that children’s work cuts across crop sectors and varies throughout the year.
Some children may be in child labour and still go to school
Child labour is “work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development” (Art. 32 UN CRC) However, it is not clear if children are less likely to go to school if they are not working full time.
In many of ECLT project countries, which are in rural communities in developing countries, school and child labour may not be full-time activities. This means that children may both attend school and be child labourers.
Figure 2 shows information our studies in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda compares the school status of children aged 5–17 years in child labour in tobacco versus those who are not in tobacco child labour. Consistently across the three countries, children who were engaged in tobacco child labour were in school at higher rates than those who were not in tobacco child labour.
Similar findings have been reported in the literature, leading some scholars to the conclusion that child labour and schooling are not mutually exclusive (e.g. Ravallion and Wodon, 2000; Patrinos and Psacharopoulos, 1997).
This means that school is an important place to reach children about the dangers of child labour and provide support services for students who may be child labourers.
Research is consistently necessary for sustainable solutions
As we continue to seek sustainable and scalable solutions against child labour, it is important to take into account the complex nature of this problem and to share knowledge and best practices. ECLT continues to work directly with local partners and communities to better understand child labour and the realities faced every day by children and families in rural communities.
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Safer Schools in Malawi
March 13, 2018
The ECLT Foundation is proud to work with our partners on the ground in Malawi to ensure that children in tobacco-growing communities have better access to education. Building and renovating schools is one way to help families make the choice to send their children to school instead of to wok in the fields. Check out the latest update from Yoneco:
“We say Kudos to ECLT foundation for coming to the rescue of Mankhamba Primary School. There is hope indeed that these children can have access to the quality education. The project is expected to be completed by end of May 2018.”
ECLT is committed to working with all stakeholders in Malawi for collaborative solutions to improve the lives of children, farmers and their families in rural communities where tobacco is grown.
The Power of Partnerships against Child Labour
March 12, 2018
The decision made by the ILO Governing Body will have significant impact on children in communities in all the 124 countries around the world where tobacco is grown.
The ECLT Foundation welcomes the International Labour Office’s strategy and affirms the ILO’s proposed approach to promote improved policies, strengthen social dialogue and assist tobacco-growing communities “to address decent work deficits, including child labour.”
The ECLT Foundation shares these priorities, but is cautious about the presented suggestion on sources of funding, particularly with regards to ending public private partnerships (PPPs) in 2018 (point 38).
Public-private partnerships are supporting strong national child labour policies protect all children, in tobacco-growing communities and beyond. These PPPs are strengthening tri-partite social dialogue, closing policy gaps and building the capacity of governments, through the direct support of the ILO, to address child labour issues at the national level.
The stakes are high for children, farmers and families, if the decision is not based on facts and impact. If long-term funds are not secured, work to fight child labour will be diminished and may end. Any solution must take into account long-term implications and the huge problem of child labour in countries where a significant part of the economy is linked to tobacco growing.
With the accelerated SDG 8.7 timeline to eradicate child labour by 2025, NOW is the time invest more in children, not to limit funding. The most recent ILO statistics show there are still 108 million children in child labour in agriculture. Public-private partnerships can continue alongside proposed funds from the ILO regular budget and give much-needed resources to support children, farmers and families.
Public-private partnerships are making a difference and have contributed to:
- More than 20,000 children in Malawi were supported to get out child labour and stay in school from child labour (since 2013).
- Families of more than 60,000 children across the region gained access to loans to pay school fees and start businesses for more stable incomes (since 2013).
- More than 7,000 children and teens in Tanzania have been enrolled in school or job training (since 2012).
- More than 30,000 farmers in Malawi to gain access to health and safety training.
On behalf of the children whose families depend on tobacco growing for their livelihoods, the ECLT Foundation strongly advocates that the ILO strategy ensures much-needed resources in the fight against child labour through public and private funding and long-term partnerships.
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Keeping Children in School in Uganda
March 7, 2018
By providing education opportunities and infrastructure for schools, the ECLT Foundation supports children to stay out of child labour and learn skills that will help them find decent work in the future. Education is a basic right for children, but the most recent statistics from the ILO show that there are over 152 million children in child labour and nearly one third of them are completely outside of the school system.
Through our REALISE project in Uganda, the ECLT Foundation worked to ensure that families could send their children to school and not to work in the fields. From 2013 to 2017, ECLT worked with our implementing partners, UWESO, to reach children from over 18,000 households in the Hoima district with:
School supplies for 5,700 children – Children need the right supplies, like pencils, paper and books, to study and do their homework. ECLT provided materials and school uniforms so that children can focus on learning.
36 classrooms built or renovated – The REALISE project gave communities the means to build or renovate their classrooms so that children and teachers can work in a safe and proper environment.
11 borehole wells and 7 toilet facilities for clean water – Sanitation is crucial to make sure that children, teachers and community members stay healthy. Clean water and proper toilet facilities benefit children attending the school as well as the entire community.
Over 26,000 households trained on sustainable ways to generate income – When parents can provide for basic family needs and pay school fees, they are able to send their children to school instead of to help in the fields. The REALISE project trained parents on skills like bee keeping, animal rearing, poultry, and energy saving technologies, which help them meet their families’ needs.
A one-of-a-kind roadmap to address root causes of child labour– The ECLT Foundation was proud to support the Government of Uganda, Employers, Workers, District Leaders and Community Members to launch the District Action Plan on Child Labour – the first of its kind throughout the sub-Saharan region – to effectively address the root causes of child labour under the Ugandan National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Ensuring that children have the opportunity to learn and develop is at the heart of ECLT’s work. The ECLT Foundation remains committed to working with all stakeholders, including governments, workers, employers, communities farmers and children themselves, towards sustainable change in rural communities where tobacco is grown in Uganda
ILO STRATEGY TO ADDRESS DECENT WORK DEFICITS IN TOBACCO SECTOR
March 5, 2018
For immediate release
Geneva, Switzerland, 5 March, 2018 – The International Labour Office of the ILO has released its “integrated ILO strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector,” which will be presented at the Governing Body session in March 2018. The ECLT Foundation has been following this discussion closely because of the significant potential impact that the Governing Body’s decision will have on the realisation of the legal and human rights of the children and families of the more than 40 million tobacco farmers in over 120 countries worldwide.
On behalf of those children and their communities, the ECLT Foundation welcomes the Office’s recognition “that decent work in tobacco-growing areas can be an important contribution to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the ambitions of the Buenos Aires Declaration.” The Foundation affirms the ILO’s proposed approach to promote improved policies, strengthen social dialogue and assist tobacco-growing communities “to address decent work deficits, including child labour.”
The ECLT Foundation shares these priorities, seeking collaborative and sustainable solutions that support established international legal frameworks, including ILO Conventions 138, 182 and 184, in order to progressively eliminate child labour in tobacco-growing communities.
There is still significant work to be done as the most recent ILO statistics show that there are still 152 million children in child labour and more than 70 percent work in agriculture, including in tobacco growing. The upcoming Governing Body decision has high stakes for these children. Unless collaboration continues, or other long-term resources are assured, effective solutions to address the root causes child labour will be diminished and, in some cases, may end.
As a key factor to support long-term sustainability and scalability of efforts against child labour, the ECLT Foundation continues to prioritise collaboration, including public-private and multi-stakeholder partnerships, in line with the SDGs (target 17.17) and the Buenos Aires Declaration. The Foundation employs both area-based interventions and social dialogue to engage all relevant stakeholders including government, social partners, communities and other agricultural sectors in tobacco-growing areas around the world.
Now and in the future, the Foundation focuses on impact and transparency in all its work and looks to accelerate sustainable change in tobacco-growing communities for the ultimate benefit of children, farmers and their families. In anticipation of the upcoming ILO Governing Body session, the Foundation will continue to closely monitor the evolving discussions.
For further information: Created in 2000, the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation is a global leader in preventing child labour in tobacco agriculture, and improving the lives of children in tobacco-growing areas. The Foundation brings together the stakeholders of the tobacco supply chain, including its largest group, the growers, along with leaf suppliers and manufacturers, to leverage impact. With the adoption of the Pledge of Commitment and Minimum Requirements on combatting child labour by member companies in 2014, ECLT promotes and advances responsible business practices that are in line with international standards. The ECLT Foundation strengthens communities, advocates for improved policies and advances research so that tobacco-growing communities can both benefit from agriculture and ensure health, education and safety for their children.
Phone: +41 (0) 22 306 14 44
Our Impact: www.eclt.org/impact
Policy Brief Malawi: 15 years of impact against child labour
February 28, 2018
Since 2002, the Foundation has reached over 195,000 community members and children.
Committed to collaborative solutions for children and families, the Foundation has worked with the Government of Malawi, the trade unions, employers’ organizations, private sector companies, civil society, communities, and the ILO to prevent children from falling into child labour: removing those already involved, enrolling them in schools and supporting their families for sustainable impact.
Child Labour is a cross-cutting issue and requires crosscutting multi-stakeholder solutions to effectively address its root-causes. Building strong commitments in the fight against child labour from various stakeholders is a major force of sustainable change in Malawi sought by the ECLT Foundation.
Child Labour Facts
February 1, 2018
152 MILLION CHILDREN Are Still in Child Labour
What is child labour?
Child labour is work that is harmful to children.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the most widely accepted international human rights treaty in history, “children have the right to be protected from work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”
Not all work done by children under 18 is child labour
Young people over the minimum working age (usually 15) have the right to decent employment opportunities where they are not put at risk, they can earn a fair income and they have the chance to develop personally, socially and through education.
No one under 18 years-old should ever do hazardous child labour, which puts them at risk physically or mentally.
What does international law say about child labour?
Two fundamental Conventions from the International Labour Organization (ILO) set standards for governments to adopt to protect the rights set out in the CRC:
ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age specifies the legal age that children can start working. They cannot be below the age during which they finish compulsory schooling; this allows children to develop physically and mentally before entering the workforce. This age is 15 years old, with a possible exception made for developing countries, which can allow children to work at 14 years old.
Hazardous child labour is work done by a child under 18 years old that is likely to harm his or her mental and/or physical conditions. It is one of the worst forms of child labour, as defined in ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour
How many children are in child labour?
According to the latest global estimates published in September 2017 by the ILO, there are still 152 million children involved in child labour. 71%, or 108 million children, are found in agricultural sectors, including tobacco growing.
POLICY BRIEF – transitioning away from tobacco in Kyrgyzstan
December 13, 2017
Over 13 years, the ECLT Foundation has removed more than 10,300 children from child labour and financially supported 4,900 parents in rural communities where tobacco is grown in Kyrgyzstan. On 28 November 2017, the Foundation officially closed its final project in the country after a 2-year sustainability phase, aiming to prepare farmers and communities to transition away from tobacco growing as large-scale sourcing has ended there.
Since January 2005, ECLT, together with its partner, the Alliance for the Protection of Children’s Rights (APCR), has implemented five projects in the Nookat and Alabuka Districts of southwestern Kyrgyzstan to address child labour in tobacco-growing communities. The projects focused on withdrawing children from working in the fields, expanding their access to vocational training, supporting families with microloans and helping them form or join existing cooperatives so parents can hire more adult labour or agricultural machinery and reduce their need for child labour.
To mark its 13 years of efforts to end child labour, a formal Closure Ceremony was organised in Bishkek on 28 November 2017 with project partners and stakeholders, including representatives from the national and local government, trade unions and beneficiaries. The event included the presentation of the independent study results, which assessed ECLT’s approach and impact between 2005 and 2017. The study revealed a reduction in child labour in tobacco growing, an improvement in farmers’ purchasing power thanks to microcredits and a better understanding of children’s rights and the dangers of child labour among children and their communities. During the ceremony, the ECLT Foundation officially handed over the ownership of the microloan fund, worth a total of USD 540’000, to the APCR.
Read the ECLT Kyrgyzstan Policy Brief to learn more about the situations faced by rural communities where tobacco is grown in Kyrgyzstan.
For more information:
Phone: +41 (0) 22 306 14 44
Promoting Human Rights in Rural Communities
December 10, 2017
Geneva – 10 December 2017 – Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the milestone document laying out the inalienable rights of every human being.
Though significant progress has been made over the past decades, realities faced by 152 million children who are still in child labour show that much work is still needed to ensure that every man, woman and child can fully enjoy their rights
This Human Rights Day, the ECLT Foundation joins the international movement to #StandUp4HumanRights. ECLT affirms our commitment to fight the root causes of child labour, like poverty and lack of access to education, which touch many of the rights enshrined in Universal Declaration. December 10, 2017 also marks the third anniversary of the signing of the ECLT Members’ Pledge of Commitment and Minimum Standards, a sector-wide commitment for members to address child labour in their respective tobacco-sourcing supply chains, based on international human rights frameworks.
What does “Standing up for Human Rights” mean in the fight against child labour in rural communities where tobacco is grown? In the ECLT Foundation’s collaborative approach, we join with partners to promote rights like:
By providing education opportunities and infrastructure for schools, the ECLT Foundation helps give children a better chance to succeed in life – a means to escape poverty, training for a job that uses their gifts and talents, and someday, an income to support their own children so that they can end the vicious cycle of child labour. Since 2011, over 27,000 children have been supported to go to school or receive vocational training through ECLT projects.
Poverty is one of the key root causes of child labour. The ECLT Foundation works with communities to increase economic opportunities for families so they can better deal with this everyday struggle. Since 2011, ECLT projects have improved financial skills and access to credit of more than 68,000 families so they can pay school fees, start businesses and improve their living conditions.
An adequate standard of living also includes access food, clean water and health services, often lacking in the rural communities where ECLT works. Through our projects, we provide meals for children at schools, build wells and bathrooms for schools and communities, and teach children and young people about hygiene and basic health safety.
Training farmers on how to assess and manage risks on farms, improves conditions for everyone on the farm, including young workers. The ECLT Foundation is currently working with the ILO to develop evidence-based advice on hazardous work in tobacco growing which will safeguard decent working conditions for millions of young workers worldwide. In Malawi, ECLT has already helped 30,000 farmers gain access to health and safety training materials.
For more information:
Phone: +41 (0) 22 306 14 44
Facts on Modern Slavery: a global problem
December 2, 2017
Geneva – 1 December 2017 – With over 40 million men, women and children in modern slavery according to the most recent ILO estimates, slavery is not a thing of the past. There are slaves working on every continent, in every country, in all types of industries and even in people’s homes.
Modern slavery affects children and rural communities around the world, with 11% of victims working in agriculture and fishing. The ECLT Foundation is committed to engaging communities, governments, unions and companies for collaborative solutions to promote education for children and decent work for adults.
This International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, it is important to see that modern slavery is more present that many people realise.
- Modern slavery includes forced labour, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, debt bondage and forced marriage. Anyone who is forced to work or marry and cannot refuse or leave is a victim of modern slavery. Most victims (71%) are women, many in forced domestic work or marriages.
- 1 in every 4 modern slavery victims are children. Children are found in every type of slavery from labour to sex trafficking to forced marriage. The youngest victim of forced marriage from the most recent ILO statistics was 9 years old.
- Profits from modern slavery per victim are higher in developed economies. In 2014, the EU and other developed economies made an estimated $46.9 Billion USD in profits from modern slavery. In contrast, Africa is the region with the highest rate of modern slavery, with 7.6 victims per 1,000 people.
- Slavery is also imposed by governments, not only by businesses or individuals. The latest estimates state that over 4 million people are slaves in State labour at any given time. This work can last a few weeks to a few years.
Like child labour, modern slavery has complex root causes including poverty, conflict and crisis, cultural perspectives and lack of protective safeguards and legislation. Understanding the immense scope of the problem is a first step, but strong commitments from governments, employers, workers and civil society are crucial to getting victims out of slavery and ensuring that they have decent work.
For more information:
Phone: +41 (0) 22 306 14 44