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Elimination of Child Labour in Madagascar’s Mica Sector

Located in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique, Madagascar is a country in southern Africa with a population of 27 million (2021). It is one of the largest exporters of mica, a miracle mineral used in paints, cosmetics, electronics and automobiles. Approximately ten thousand Malagasy children, as young as age 4, work alongside their families to extract mica in order to survive.  They are exposed to substantial risks to their health and well-being, These vulnerable children often face chronic food insecurity.  Some of them develop respiratory problems and experience back pains from carrying heavy loads. They lack basic services such as water, education and health facilities and are exposed to risks such as sexual exploitation and early child marriage. Terre des Hommes Netherlands (TdH-NL), UNICEF the Netherlands, UNICEF Madagascar and the company VDL are working on implementing a project, FAMAHA (Fampiasana Ankizy @ Mica, Andao Fongorina, Atsahatra), financed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency´s (RVO) Fund Against Child Labour, to contribute to the Elimination of Child Labour in Madagascar’s Mica Sector. We take a stand against the exploitation of children in mica mines, one of the worst forms of child labour. Join our fight. Stop child labour in Madgascar’s mica mines.

Overview

As a consequence of widespread poverty, Malagasy children must work to support their families. They suffer from harsh, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions and may earn just enough to afford one meal a day. The rights of many children in the mining communities are at stake. They go to work from a young age on an empty stomach and do not have the chance to go to school, play or rest.

Children involved in mica mining communities are insufficiently protected by their families, communities and the government. Moreover, the mica supply chain actors don’t take responsibility for protecting, respecting and ensuring children’s rights in the supply chain. 

The ‘FAMAHA (Fampiasana Ankizy @ Mica, Andao Fongorina, Atsahatra)project is implemented in the South of Madagascar, in the communities of Benato Toby, Ankaroka and Tatabe. It will set a precedent that will lead to structural positive changes in the condition of tens of thousands of children and their families across Madagascar and other low income countries, who are negatively impacted by mica business and trade. 

Terre des Hommes Netherlands, UNICEF Netherlands,  UNICEF Madagascar and VDL will achieve such results by integrating social, public and private interventions at local mining level. It focuses on supply chain mapping and working with relevant private sector actors to take their responsibility. Lastly, the project focuses on the government policies and actions towards responsible mica sourcing. 

If the key vulnerabilities of children, families, and communities impacted by child labour in mica producing areas are addressed; if communities protect children from this worst form of child labour; and if the supply chain actors including the government of Madagascar and the private sector take their responsibility to ensure a fair and responsible mica supply chain and invest in due diligence; then child labour will be reduced and the sourcing of mica will become more sustainable.

Children earn less than adults

"Children earn less than adults because their work pace is lower and payments are based on the number of kilos sorted. Young children work as hard as they can every day, their salary is not enough for them to afford enough food.”

Approach

Terre des Hommes Netherlands is committed to eradicating the exploitation of children in Mica Mines in Madagascar. We plan to achieve this by ensuring that;

  • Children are taken out of the mines and have access to quality education Children's rights are promoted in children's clubs, and they receive psycho-social support and reintegration support. 
  • Families in mica communities are supported with alternative and additional income-generating activities as well as financial literacy training
  • Social systems are strengthened with a focus on Early Childhood care centres, access to quality primary education, strengthening the child protection systems, and building a social protection database of households that may be eligible for cash transfers
  • Community members are brought together for consultations, leading to awareness and behaviour change towards children’s needs, rights, education and engagement in day to day life. 
  • Mapping of supply chain actors is done and due diligence is supported, which will allow for responsible, yet profitable mica mining for the individual entrepreneurs and for the public in general.
  • Technical support is provided to the Government to build a database of mica activities in the country 
  • Miners are engaged, informed, trained and given the opportunity to learn about new processes, the value and specifications of their products as well as price-setting mechanisms. 
  • Other private sector partners, such as transporters, sorting and exporting companies,  are engaged through trainings to comply with Children’s Rights and Business Principles.
  • Actively collaborate with downstream companies to create transparency and Due Diligence in the mica supply chain. 
  • Technical expertise on Children's Rights and Business Principles are employed to advocate on mica supply management in Multi-stakeholder platforms with a specific focus on the Dutch Agreements on International Responsible Business Conduct in the metals and mineral sector and the Pension Covenant.

Join our fight. Let us work towards eradicating child labour in Madgascar’s mica mines.

Project Outcomes

We will continue to fight child labour in Madagascar's mica mines so children can attend school and build a better future.

Children are protected and their rights are being respected

Families in mica communities receive a fair income

Supply chain actors ensure a transparent, responsible Mica Supply Chain

Plan of action to sustainably address child labour after the subsidy period

Our partners in Madagascar

Together with experienced partners we are working towards a world without child exploitation, where young people can feel safe today and better about tomorrow. Join our fight.

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