Facing the facts
The 870 child labourers were found in the Moroto and Bugiri district. Local partners from Terre des Hommes are working on combating child labour in small-scale gold mines. One of the objectives of the program is to create awareness of the risks of working in mines not only among the population (including parents and children) but also among local authorities. Only when these local leaders are forced to face the facts and become insightful of the seriousness of the situation, will they take measurements.
7 children died
With that in mind, the partners made a presentation with photos of child labour in mines in the most miserable circumstances. It is the harsh reality: children with hardly any clothes on, with holes and tears in the few dirty garments they do wear, balancing heavy loads between the deep mine shafts and channels, or cutting out ore deep underground, or up to their knees wading in muddy water which is seriously polluted by mercury. Images that were further illustrated by the terrible stories about the work in the mines: that in 7 months’ time 7 child labourers died due to collapsing mine shafts, and the serious injuries and diseases children can obtain through the mine work.
Fines and penalties
It turned out to be an eye-opener for local authorities. After a fierce discussion about who is to blame, they took their responsibility. In the Rupa sub-district, a local regulation has been adopted which underlines the national legal ban on child labour in mines, with fines and penalties for mine-operators who still have child labourers at work. In cooperation with Terre des Hommes, this regulation is maintained by regular inspections of the gold mines.
Stopping child labour in East Africa
Thousands of children are forced to work in the mining sector, or as a home slave in Uganda and Tanzania. The work is physically too heavy for their age and often life-threatening. They are also frequently abused, sexually exploited and underpaid, if paid at all. The Terre des Hommes program against child labour focuses on these worst forms of child labour. In addition to providing information, we help children go to school, offer legal assistance and we help families towards generating alternative sources of income. In the first half of 2017, 981 households of former child labourers were helped with accessing new income sources as an alternative to the money that the children earned until recently.