The Labour Commissioner at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Saul Kinemela says that Tanzania's status on child labour is far below international standards.
The action plan will reinforce existing commitments and efforts to create a supportive and enabling environment for children's rights to survival, development and protection by putting in place a framework for preventing and responding to Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL).
He explained that WFCL prevention efforts and response must be directed at addressing economic issues at household and community levels. Institutions and enterprises should not be left out. The power to prevent and influence response against WFCL requires mainstreaming and the introduction of policies and legislation that provide for mandated responses from both the public or state agencies and non-state stakeholders, says Mr Kinemela.
Child labour is partly driven by higher incidence of poverty coupled with low or inadequate social protection measures. There is a global action plan to eliminate child labour by 2016 and the African Union (AU) pledged to eliminate WFCL by 2015. Despite efforts to eliminate child labour in the country, the Commissioner says that, the problem will continue if the existing national protection systems are not reviewed.
He points out that poverty is the leading source of child labour in the country. The most vulnerable groups are orphans, or children whose parents are living with disabilities or old. The country's social systems need to cater for these groups. Mr Kinemela says that the Ministry is working on having child labour district coordinators who will monitor child labour practices in the districts and take action against it. The Ministry is compiling a list of jobs that are considered hazardous to children to be disseminated to the public.
Despite countries agreeing to tackle and eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) the International Labour Organization (ILO) global report shows a moderate decrease in child labour and children in hazardous work in sub-Saharan Africa countries, Tanzania included. Tanzania is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Conventions including the United Nations Child Rights Convention (CRC), the ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 182) and the WFCL Convention (No. 182).
In order to show progress in elimination of WFCL, immediate and effective measures have to be undertaken. He says that besides power to prevent and influence responses against WFCL would require mainstreaming, policies, legislations and procedures that provide for mandated action by both designated public of state agencies and the non-state stakeholders.
The Commissioner explains that WFCL is the exploitation and gross violation of human rights for boys and girls, with detrimental physical, emotional and mental consequences to the child. He further said, stakeholders have identified issues and interventions will address WFCL at all levels. Collaborative participation in the implementation of the action plan is crucial for best results.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner - Ministry of Labour and Employment Mrs Hawa Wenga says that poverty, HIV and AIDS and the spillover effects of the global economic downturn, following the credit crunch in the United States and the Western Europe countries have compounded the challenges of elimination of WFCL.
The realisation of the rights of children and the elimination of WFCL requires advancement of the social development agenda to protect and restore children's dignity and well being of children by creating new openings to help fulfill children's rights to survival development and protection. This requires collective efforts from government, business sectors, civil society and the strengthening of community responses. This is the cornerstone of this plan of action for the elimination of WFCL in Tanzania.
She further said that partnerships will ensure that policies and plans are translated into realities that will benefit orphans and vulnerable children in their communities. The majority of children in Tanzania do some sort of work everyday usually household chores or take on an after school job.
However, according to ILO some of these children are employed in jobs that are either hazardous, or where employers exploit them. Inevitably the emotional, physical and psychological effects can be extremely damaging for these children. Stakeholders involved in the preparation of the action plan include Win rock International, Tanzania Education Alternatives for Children (TEACH), the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) and the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE).