ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR IN TOBACCO GROWING IN KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan Project Results, 2005-2007

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withdrawal Withdrawal
  • Social workers helped to establish a database on the households in the region.
education Education
  • School furniture was purchased for two secondary schools—Osmonov in Alabuka and Dodon in Nookat. The total amount spent was US$ 2,500 divided equally between the two schools and each school received 20 desks, 42 chairs, one bookshelf, and one teacher’s table.
  • Slate tiles and repairs were provided for the roof of Arlanbob children’s camp in Alabuka, at a cost of $1,250.
  • 52 orphans from Alabuka were provided with winter clothes, shoes and books at a cost of US$ 1,560.
  • Social workers issued a one-time grant to low-income families with several children.
  • 77 sick children (37 in Nookat district and 40 in Alabuka) attended a summer camp, during the tobacco harvesting and stringing season. The list of these children was compiled by village administrations, the social security offices, and trade unions and the children were drawn from the Chyngaraeva health centre in Nookat’s and Zhoogazyn in Alabuka.
awareness Awareness
  • 16 workshops were held to raise awareness about the causes and hazards of child labour.
  • 1,308 people attended these workshops, which included village governments and farmers, teachers, social and health workers, representatives of the local agriculture department and trades unions.
  • Farmers showed particular interest in aspects of the lectures that focused on the negative consequences of child labour on children’s health.
  • Interviews with 350 farmers from each district were conducted.
  • Articles were published in local newspapers, Osh Janyrygy and Ayil Akyikaty, explaining in detail the dangers of child labour in tobacco growing, the goals of the project and the action plan for the near future.
  • TV spots were broadcast on Jalalabat regional TV and Kyrgyz National Television.
  • School teachers discussed the hazards of child labour with parents and reported an improvement in the attendance and performance levels of children.
  • Information and Education Communication (IEC) materials—posters and leaflets—were produced in three languages: Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Russian. These were distributed in schools and amongst communities.

capacity Strengthening Communities
Research was undertaken at the start of the project to help determine the neediest beneficiaries, in terms of those requiring medical aid or financial support. The survey was also designed to help children from low-income or single-parent families with the purchase of school accessories. The survey covered the following topics:

  • The family earnings of children working in tobacco farming;
  • Accessibility to social services;
  • Children’s school attendance;
  • Sickness rates among children;
  • Awareness of families about the harm to children’s health caused by working in tobacco fields;
  • Reasons for children working in tobacco farming;
  • Wage rate, number of working hours, conditions of work, leisure time and the way children spent their vacations;
  • The general health of children, including the number and type of vaccine inoculations, and if they ate a balanced, healthy diet.
poverty Alleviating Poverty
  • In 2005, due to delays by the micro-credit agency Bait-Tushum, only 28% of the total amount set aside for loans was disbursed to mutual aid groups. This equated to 590,000 Kyrgyz Soms to seven mutual aid groups in Nookat district and 450,000 Kyrgyz Soms to six mutual aid groups in Alabuka.
  • All 13 groups fulfilled their obligations by repaying the loans in the allotted time frame.
  • Between June to October 2006, with a new micro-credit agency Ak-Maral Yug running the scheme, 2,380,000 Kyrgyz Soms were disbursed to 34 mutual aid groups operating in 17 villages. 18 groups were in Alabuka and 16 in Nookat, and involved 284 families with 713 children of school and pre-school age. Each mutual aid group consisted of between six to ten people.
  • The amount disbursed was the equivalent of US$ 2,500 per group – with an annual interest rate of just 8%, compared to a commercial rate of 21% to 29%. Each member of the group was entitled to receive up to 10,000 Krygz Soms.
  • The money was used for the following income-generating activities: trade, alternative agricultural production (potatoes, onions, sunflowers, winter wheat harvesting) and cattle-breeding. Most families (231) chose cattle-breeding because it was less labour intensive and because there had been a sharp increase in the price of fruits and vegetables.
  • By the end of December 2006, all debts by each of the groups had been paid off.
  • The perception amongst the farmers and the mutual aid groups was that Ak-Maral Yug had established a good rapport with the farmers, processed paperwork speedily, and generally established a client friendly environment for them.
  • Groups provided loans internally to further develop their funds. Some groups, for instance, issued loans to its own members with an interest rate of 5% per month. This demonstrated that groups did not just expect outside help, but successfully increased capital for themselves.
  • An unforeseen positive result of the project intervention was the debate it stimulated among the farmers about how best to organize their work to prevent children from labouring in the fields. In most cases, the farmers agreed to work collectively, bringing all adult family members to work together on each other’s land during peak seasons.

The microcredit and mutual aid groups successfully addressed the primary cause of child labour—poverty. Adult beneficiaries saw this as an opportunity to help them break the poverty cycle. Farmers realised that the project would help them to reduce child labour in tobacco-growing and give their children a chance for rehabilitation and integration into normal social life.

Furthermore, children began to understand that they have rights and, conversely, parents came to see that their children have the right to attend school instead of working.

The project lifted most families out of extreme poverty. Of the 283 families in the project, 49 were to be found in category 1 (extremely poor), 161 in category 2 (very poor) and 73 in category 3 (poor).