Mozambique: Agreement to Fight Child Labour in Tobacco Growing

Maputo — The Mozambican government will benefit, over the next three years, from grants of 1.2 million US dollars to strengthen the fight against the worst forms of child labour, particular in the areas where tobacco is grown.

To this end, the Ministry of Labour and the End Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT) signed in Maputo on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding to create a platform of interaction to strengthen the rights of children, particularly those in situations of poverty and vulnerability.

Labour Minister Vitoria Diogo told the signing ceremony that the memorandum is a response to the government's concern at the scenario of thousands of children involved in the worst forms of child labour in Mozambique, endangering their healthy development.

The government was therefore seeking "partnerships nationally and internationally so that we can put into practice measures that will restrict the worst forms of child labour".

She noted that, across the globe, about 68 million children are involved n work regarded as dangerous, and it is the responsibility of governments and their partners to take measures ensuring that children grow up, are educated and work in a healthy environment so that they become citizens useful to society.

"It is important to bear in mind that children are not banned from working, but it has to be work appropriate for their age", she said. "They must work in preparation for becoming useful citizens, they must work but continue to be children".

Parents and guardians, Diogo added, should consider that children must go to school. They can help their parents, but must also have time to play and to be children

It is hoped that implementation of the memorandum will lead to mass publicity for the first government approved list of jobs dangerous for children.

The ECLT Executive Director, David Hammond, said his organisation is attempting to eliminate child labour in the tobacco growing areas. ECLT has been working in Mozambique for over ten years, trying to eradicate child labour in the western province of Tete.

"We want children in these areas to have access to education and to everything else that other children do", he said.

The National Director of Labour, Isabel Mate, explained that the project will cover such areas as community education and training, awareness and communication, institutional capacity building and revising the legal framework.

"Through this project, we want to implement professional training programmes to benefit the households affected by the worst forms of child labour, particularly those involved in tobacco growing, so as to guarantee funds and alternative sources of income", she said.

Mate added that influential members of the community and other authorities will be trained in questions of child labour and awareness-raising messages will be broadcast on the community radios in Portuguese and in local languages.

Within ten days the two parties to the memorandum will set up technical teams to draw up a plan to put the memorandum into operation.

According to a study undertaken by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in 2017 there were about 1.4 million children involved in child labour in Mozambique.

Child labour is at its worst in informal mining, the carrying of heavy goods, commercial agriculture, particularly in the cotton and tobacco fields, informal trade, fisheries, and sexual exploitation.

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