AS the globe commemorates the World Day Against Child Labour, half of Tanzania's population remains below the age of 18, with many children engaged in child labour.
Available statistics show that nearly 92 per cent of all working children are in the broader agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
In his statement to commemorate the Day, JTI Leaf Services ltd (JTI) General Manager John Gauna pushed for strong commitment by the Tanzanian government and other partners to participate in effective programmes to eliminate all forms of child labour in the country, especially in regions where JTI operates.
He said in 2016, the government, JTI, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Winrock International (WI) launched the Achieving Reduction of Child Labour in Support of Education (ARISE) programme, which has improved the school learning environment by building classrooms, teachers' houses and construction of modern sanitary facilities, with about 7,700 pupils benefiting.
"As we speak today, 680 children have been withdrawn from child labour and child protection teams have been formed in Urambo and Uyui districts," said Mr Gauna, noting that through training on model farms and village savings, 303 households have benefited from the programme, which has reached over 10,000 community members and stakeholders.
Other programme areas include provision of input and support in developing national policies and plans on child labour, establishment of 20 Most Vulnerable Child Committees in Urambo and Uyui districts and creation of "after school programmes" through which 197 pupils participated in anti-child labour clubs / activities.
ARISE programme will continue promoting access to quality education, raising awareness on child labour, boosting social mobilisation and economic empowerment as well as legal framework on child protection in the tobacco-growing communities.
"I thank the government, ILO and WI for their support to ensure that we eliminate child labour across the agricultural supply chain... the journey is long and requires us all to ensure we remain steadfast in our long-term commitments," he said.
Tabora Regional Commissioner (RC) Aggrey Mwanri said: "Three years ago, this region had the highest prevalence of child labour.
We sat down and worked out a strategy to overcome the problem, starting with identification and mapping of all women and children in vulnerable conditions."
One of the key findings, according to the RC, was agriculture being the dominant economic sector in the region, involving 81.5 per cent of all households.
Farming is labour intensive, requiring extra labourers, especially during planting and harvesting seasons.
"With tobacco being the region's main cash crop, we found out that residents engaged family members and casual cheap labourers, including children, to maximise profit," charged Mr Mwanri, explaining that regional and district administrations were involved to advocate and coordinate translation of the national policy into tangible benefits for children.
Through educational programmes, the RC said: "We support expansion of decent work for 15-17 years old and improve access to quality education and economic improvement at community level."
Read the original article on Daily News.
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