By LUDOVICK KAZOKA, 17th November 2011 @ 15:50, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 1900
CHILD labour has become a global problem, denying the victims the opportunity to prepare their bright future. This is by refuting them to access education. According to the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), there are estimated 250 million children aged 5 to 14 in child labour worldwide. The list excludes child domestic labour.
“In many developing countries, including Tanzania, Child Labour is a problem that is found at the household level, community level and almost all sectors of national economy, including in domestic work, commercial, agriculture, fishing and mining both in rural and urban areas,” said the Minister of Labour and Employment, Ms Gaudensia Kabaka.
The Minister, who was speaking during the launch ceremony of programme to combat child labour in tobacco growing areas recently, said the child labour denies the children the intellectual and psychological development for a better future. She says that the new programme on combating child labour dubbed PROSPER (Promoting Sustainable Practice to Eradicate Child Labour in Tobacco) would help to address the problem and help the children to go back to school.
According to the acting director of PROSPER programme, Ms Mary Kibogoya, the programme aims at protecting children from the worst forms of child labour in the Urambo and Sikonge districts in Tabora Region. “The programme deploys an integrated, holistic approach that can be replicated outside the target areas. Prosper focuses particularly on orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS who are the most at risk of entering in child labour,” she says.
After coffee, cotton and tobacco are Tanzania’s largest export crops. The major cotton and tobacco producing areas in Tanzania correlate to areas of low primary school enrolment and high numbers of working children aged 7-13. Ms Kibogoya noted that these children work long hours without rest or food, endure extreme weather without appropriate gear, carry heavy loads that can affect their growth, face exposure to harmful agrochemicals, and do not have time to go school.
“On average, they work 8 to 12 hours per day. Migrant children are the most likely to be working in tobacco fields, yet obtaining an accurate count of migrant children is challenging as they come from other poor locations in the region and are often on the move,” she says. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), the main causes of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) in tobacco fields in Tanzania are linked to poverty: 84 per cent of the parents of children working on the tobacco plantations come from poor and very poor socio-economic backgrounds.
In rural area, children involved in WFCL are either school drop-outs, have never been to school, or are combining work and school, with education a lower priority. At 75 million US dollars (about 135bn/-), PROSPER is funded by Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ELCT) Foundation and to be jointly carried out by Winrock International in partnership with Tanzania Association of Women Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment and the Tabora Development Foundation Trust.
In her remarks, Ms Barbara Martellini, who is the Vice- President of ELCT, said: “ELCT is extremely committed to the cause of fighting child labour and supporting PROSPER not only gives children the education and skills they need for a better future but also tackles the wider causes of child labour in tobacco growing. That’s why PROSPER is designed to help not only children but the whole families and communities too.”
The project objective, she said, is to identify child labours and children “at risk” in 20 communities and analyses the root causes of child labour and that through a participatory approach, the project encourages communities to develop self-help strategies to resolve their own problems.
“The project trains volunteer community activities in each village to work with the community to form or strengthen children’s watch committees and village child labour committees. These committees are involved in monitoring the welfare of vulnerable children, tracking their attendance at school, and raising awareness about child labour in the communities,” she says.
She said the project would improve access to quality education and other basic social services at district and community level by providing a Family Support Scholarship (FSS) scheme for vulnerable households which combines scholarships for the child with conditional credit to the mother or guardian of target children. “The beneficiary mother or guardian is trained in basic business practices to develop her skills in small business management, growth investment, civic leadership and parenting,” she says.
PROSPER programme also supports after school-programmes and mentoring in collaboration with teachers and community activists. After-school programmes include promoting child labour prevention messages; information on health, hygiene, and nutrition. Through the programme about 6,000 children between the ages of 5-17 would be withdrawn from the child labour from July 2011 until December 2015 and that about 1,800 children between the ages of 5-17 would be prevented from entering child labour.
Despite efforts to end child labour, there have been some efforts to improve tobacco production in Tanzania, trying to involve adult population. Tobacco farmers in Tanzania should increase production of the crop to earn more revenue and alleviate poverty. Tanzania is capable of producing more tobacco and other cash crops for the country to become a leading producer and exporter in the region.
Companies buying and processing tobacco should ensure that they add value to the crop by processing it in the country before exportation. The reason is that if all the tobacco produced in Tanzania is exported in its raw form, the country will be exporting jobs and income, he said. Individuals and companies interested in establishing value addition are welcome to process tobacco and bring about a challenge in the current global economy.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review issued early this year, tobacco exports rose over the past three years from $20.3 million in 2008 to $38.5 million in the year ending 2010. There are some indications that tobacco production will continue to increase and bring hope to those dependent on the industry despite the country's troubled economy.
The reason for the increase in tobacco production and sale of tobacco leaves is that there are more farmers who have been growing the crop in many areas. Moreover, the 20 tractors loaned to growers by the CRDB Bank would boost tobacco production as a result of increased tobacco farming, he said. In order to improve the quality and quantity of tobacco production, he called on the country's commercial banks to extend more loans to tobacco farmers with soft lending terms.
Formalities of the commercial banks are major impediments to tobacco growers in obtaining bank loans. Commercial banks have already been asked to review agreements between farmers and tobacco processors as a guarantee for extending loans to tobacco growers. The expansion is a two-pronged solution. It increases the living standards of farmers while benefiting buyers and processors who have to export tobacco to meet their needs.
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