Working Together for the Welfare of Children

VCLC bicyclesAll ECLT Foundation projects thrive to build capacity of local communities to protect children from hazardous and exploitative child labour in tobacco growing. This ECLT Foundation guiding principle of “building local capacity” recognizes the importance of community participation to ensure ownership and long-term sustainability.

In alignment with this principle, the PROSPER Project in Tanzania has been actively working with 20 communities in Sikonge and Urambo districts of Tabora region, building their capacity to identify children in child labour or at risk of entering child labour.

Under PROSPER, 20 Village Child Labour Committees (VCLCs) were formed and trained on issues of child labour, identification, and monitoring, and taught skills and confidence to talk with parents and children about child labour issues. Each VCLC meets weekly and comprises representatives from the neighborhoods in the village.

Each VCLC also nominates Community Activists who have responsibility for monitoring children in school and at home. To meet the challenge many of these activists experienced in monitoring that can be six hours apart by foot, the PROSPER Project provided bicycles to each Community Activist to facilitate their travel.

Japhet Mabula is a Community Activist and member of the Kasisi VCLC. He beamed with pride as he explained how the activist training is helping him in combating child labour in tobacco farms in the area.

One of Mabula’s main tasks is to identify families that have children at the nearby Kasisi primary school who either don’t go to school or who work in tobacco farms. He said he also identifies children who live under difficult conditions and he reports them to the VCLC.

Mabula is very concerned about the welfare of children. He said the committees educate parents and guardians that children should not be working in tobacco farms,

Tobacco farming is a labour-intensive crop as close care is needed at all stages of the production. This labour intensity is a driver for cheap labour including child labour, and some children work from morning to evening without food.

Community Activists work closely with teachers, parent and teacher associations, and community leaders to identify these children and monitor their school attendance. Children are also monitored at home, with regular counseling to their parents and guardians.

At the Motomoto village, another activist, Dastan Mlela, has identified all children in his area who have not started studying but are working in tobacco fields. “My training was very helpful and I hope to use the skills to make sure that all the children in the village go to school and none of them work in tobacco fields,” he said.

“We educate the parents on dangers of putting children in tobacco farms and that even for domestic labour children should not be employed in hazardous tasks such as using pesticides or chemicals,” Mlela added.

Community Activists are well listened to and accepted in the project communities.

“Overall parents and teachers are collaborating well with us,” reported Leopold Ntawenganyira, an activist in Kelemela B village. “We work together to make this exercise a success.”