On 12th June it’s the World Day against Child Labour, a day which aims to prompt activism and raise awareness to prevent child labour. Globally, 160 million children are engaged in child labour and just around half of those kids are performing hazardous labour.(1) With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community committed to ending child labour in all its forms by 2025 – however progress has stalled since 2016.(1)
With the devastating effects of the global pandemic on families around the world, it’s feared that more children will be pulled out of education and into child labour.(2)
Our focus at AfriKids is giving more children than ever happier childhoods and brighter futures. In northern Ghana, 47% of 5- to 17-year-olds are engaged in child labour.(3)
From our own work we have seen how child labour can seriously affect children’s physical and mental health, as well as deny them their right to a quality education. Thus, ensuring the protection of children and their rights is the reason AfriKids exists and our utmost priority.
For the World Day against Child Labour 2021, we wanted to share details on our upcoming intervention with UNICEF and the International Justice Mission (IJM), as well as take a look back at some of our previous interventions against Child Labour.
Enhanced Support for Child Survivors of Trafficking
Some of the worst forms of child labour take place as a result of child trafficking and in order to tackle the complicated issue we will be working with UNICEF and IJM to tackle child trafficking on Lake Volta.
Children are involved in almost every aspect of fishing on Lake Volta. Children produce and maintain equipment and gear including boats, traps and nets. They set and collect traps, and go out onto the lake in boats, rowing, bailing water, and reeling and casting nets. They are often made to dive to the bottom of the lake to free trapped nets, which is the most dangerous task, with a high risk of drowning.
In a 2016 report, our partners the International Justice Mission (IJM), found that more than half of the children working on southern Lake Volta’s waters were likely trafficked into forced labour and that the majority of them were 10 years or younger.(4) However, the same study found out that these children often had contractual agreements for their exploitation, which were frequently between the trafficker and the child’s parent/guardian – demonstrating the real complexity of the child labour.
The study revealed that traffickers then typically control children through intimidation, violence and limiting access to food; and sometimes kept older boys in their employment through sexual rewards and marriage. These control tactics rendered girls in the fishing industry vulnerable to multiple forms of victimisation and violence. These young victims are routinely malnourished and suffering from untreated illness – on top of the constant risk of drowning.
AfriKids and our partners, UNICEF and the IJM, will work to identify child survivors of trafficking on Lake Volta, prosecute child trafficking offenders, and ensure that survivors and victims of child trafficking are provided comprehensive, gender-sensitive, trauma-informed care; as well as case management services and appropriate community re-integration and follow up.
Children’s involvement in artisanal or galamsey gold mining in Ghana is an important concern. Not only do children miss out on their education but they are also exposed to some really hazardous conditions – dangerous chemicals and of course, cramped, narrow and potentially unstable mineshafts. AfriKids’ Operation Sunlight tackled the issue of child labour in the gold mines of the Talensi Nabdam District. The project ran from 2006-2012 and successfully removed 320 children from working in the dangerous conditions of these small-scale mines.
The project first worked with communities to ensure children wouldn’t enter mining in the first place through our child rights club methodology and community sensitisations. The project then worked directly with children already engaged in mining, supporting their reintegration into education and rehabilitation. To ensure they stayed in schools, we worked with parents to improve their livelihoods so that the income from their child was no longer necessary. Lastly, we worked with child labour committees and workers unions to advocate for an end to child mining.
School of Night Rabbits
The reality of street life can be difficult to escape from, many of the children AfriKids supported through the project ended up at the local lorry park, a frenzied stop-off point for buses travelling from Accra in southern Ghana to its neighbouring countries in the north.
In exchange for small change, children carry heavy luggage for passengers and sell food for local vendors, working long hours into the night and sleeping under the shelter of kiosks. These children are at risk of accidents, abuse, exploitation and trafficking, often remaining on the streets for weeks at a time and many commonly experience mental health issues as a result.
To address the issues of child-streetism and prevent children working on the streets from missing out on education, the School of Night Rabbits was set up by AfriKids in 2005. It ensured that street children could access basic education, emotional support, counselling and a safe place - the school supported more than 900 children over its life-cycle.
Our qualified and experienced local team were known and trusted by the communities which enabled them to effectively help children off the streets, out of child labour, and to be rescued from trafficking. Each child received specialist counselling, guidance and support, helping their confidence to grow and ensuring they gain the basic knowledge and skills to begin school, putting them on a path towards a brighter future.
If you too feel strongly about these issues and would like to help us support children’s rights, please consider donating to AfriKids:
If you would like to learn more about child labour, we would recommend the following links:
1 – p.2; Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward; ILO and UNICEF; New York; 2021.
2 – p.3; Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward; ILO and UNICEF; New York; 2021.
3 – p.13; 1 Million Smiles: Making Ghana a Beacon for Child Rights, AfriKids, 2021. https://www.afrikids.org/1-million-smiles/
4 – p.9; Child Trafficking into Forced Labor on Lake Volta, Ghana; Kirsten Singleton, Katrina B. Stone, and Julie Stricker; IJM; 2016
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AfriKids Ghana Head Office:
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