10 April 2014

Tanzania: War On Child Labour Gathers Momentum

Photo: Justin Purefoy/HRW
A 13-year-old boy, who mines gold, attends classes in a small-scale mining area in Mbeya Region, Tanzania. Work in mining impacts children’s performance and attendance at school.

THE team of permanent secretaries formed to look into findings by Human Rights Watch on child labour in Tanzania has completed its work and handed over its report to the government.

Labour Commissioner Saul Kinemela said in Dar es Salaam that the report was handed over early this year to the Chief Secretary, Ambassador Ombeni Sefue, who had commissioned the team.

The team was assigned to look into the findings and suggest ways of combating the scourge. Mr Kinemela was representing the Minister for Labour and Employment, Ms Gaudentia Kabaka, at a child labour conference organised by the United States Embassy.

It was held under the theme "Working Together to Combat Child Labour." In her speech read on her behalf by the labour commissioner, Ms Kabaka said child labour posed a big challenge to the country's economy and thwarted efforts to combat poverty.

Ms Kabaka noted that the fight to combat the vice will only be successful if all stakeholders pooled their efforts together. She said the government has taken steps to bring child labour under control, but stressed that the government alone will not be able to curb the vice.

Efforts by government to control the vice include ensuring access to education at all levels, deployment of labour inspectors and strengthening policies and laws against child labour.

Ms Kabaka noted, however, that there were many challenges hampering efforts to curb child labour, including lack of facilities and resources to enable frequent inspections.

The Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy, Ms Virginia Blaser, said the campaign against child labour globally has seen dramatic success in recent years, including in Tanzania.

According to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, the number of children in child labour worldwide has since 2000 declined from 246 million to 168 million, with boys registering 25 per cent and girls 40 per cent.

"Despite these achievements, much work remains to be done; 168 million children are far too many to lose to the rigours of child labour," she stressed.

She further noted that the vice has over the years removed children from schools, deploying them instead in tobacco fields, mines, fishing boats and in the streets, "where they work for long hours carrying heavy loads in the scorching sun, while also descending into dark and dangerous mines shafts."

In February, last year, the government of the United States granted 10 million US dollars to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) through the Department of Labour for the WEKEZA project, currently operating in six districts across Tanga and Kigoma regions.

WEKEZA offers children school vouchers and scholarships to increase their access to education, in addition to providing job and financial management training to economically vulnerable families.

The NGO also works with government officials to increase local capacity to recognise, aggressively investigate and actively prevent child labour," Ms Kabaka reported.

She also announced that the US Department of Labour has chosen the ILO to implement a new programme that will track essential data on child labour in the country.

The US department has awarded a 7 million USdollar grant to ILO Tanzania and nine other countries to improve data collection and analysis of working children.

"In coordination with the government of Tanzania, the ILO will conduct a national survey on child labour and analyse the data and report findings and recommendations to improve government policy and implementation," she explained.

On his part, ILO Senior Programme Officer, Antony Rutabanzibwa, welcomed the support by the US for efforts to eliminate child in Tanzania.

He said much more should be done, noting that campaigns against the vice needed integrated action and broad-based approach to record success.

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