ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR IN TOBACCO GROWING IN KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan Project Results, 2010-2012
Each year of the project, 50 withdrawn children were sent to a Medical Rehabilitation Centre for 15 days of treatment. The project provided medical rehabilitation for 150 children affected by working in tobacco agriculture.
The project focused on supporting vocational education and recreational activities for school-age children. To achieve this, the project supported the opening of 11 professional training courses in schools including hairdressing, carpentry, tailoring, and cooking.
The project also facilitated the provision of equipment and recreational materials for summer day camps for schools in Nookat district. Equipment for sports grounds in secondary schools was procured including exercise bars, boxing gloves, a boxing punchbag, mattresses, tennis tables, and training apparatus.
The project supported 11 schools in Nookat district in the implementation of vocational education and recreational activities for children. It also enabled 96 children to attend hairdressing courses, 120 children to be trained in tailoring skills, and 90 children to acquire joinery and carpentry skills.
The project raised awareness through school competitions, concerts, and musical performances. These events were organized in 67 schools in collaboration with the local education departments and the Child Creativity Center. The project also used various platforms and tools – national conferences, videos, t-shirts, and leaflets – to increase awareness about the hazards of child labour. In Nookat district, from a total of 52 schools, the project raised the awareness of 26,370 students about the hazards of child labour. In Alabuka district, from a total of 13 schools, the project raised the awareness of 7,522 students about the hazards of child labour.
Efforts to organize summer holiday camps for children yielded tremendous results in terms of reducing child labour. Over the 10 days of summer camps, project staff explained to the children that working in tobacco fields is prohibited by law. The children then passed on this information to other children who live in the same streets and villages and to those who attend the same schools. The summer camps also provided children with a rare opportunity of spending decent holidays with other children, and to play and enjoy their childhood. Each year of the project, 200 children were able to spend their summer holiday in these camps. The project supported 600 children through attendance at summer camps.
The project created mutual aid groups (MAGs) in 37 villages in Nookat district and in two localities in Alabuka district. Each MAG brought together 6 to 10 tobacco farmers who each received conditional microcredit at a preferential interest rate. Farmers could only sign up for the micro-credit scheme if they pledged not to employ children in their fields. The MAG also functions as a monitoring and support group. Farmers assist each other in the fields and ensure that all members repay their loans on time.
The purpose of the microcredit scheme is to enable poor tobacco farmers to diversify their livelihood, increase their revenue and, ultimately, lift themselves out of poverty. The project supported 903 low-income tobacco-farming families through microcredits and established 93 mutual aid groups, each consisting of 6 to 10 families.
Successful cooperatives led both to an increase in farming efficiency and profitability, and a reduction in manual labour. The project provided 50% of the costs of a second-hand tractor as a technical loan to the farmers in the cooperative. Training sessions on the establishment of cooperatives were conducted for the MAGs; legal and regulatory issues were also covered. The project created three cooperatives consisting of 20 or more farmers involved in the project, and distributed three technical loans to enable farmers to purchase agricultural machinery.
In addition, the project implemented a “pass-on” scheme. One milking cow was distributed to the most vulnerable families on the condition that it would be passed on to another poor family after it delivered offspring (after one or two years). The cows would provide milk for the families’ children and a source of income if the milk products were sold on the market. The project provided assistance to 36 low-income families through the loan of a milking cow (12 families per year).