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Action Against Child Labour Project in Kenya

Many children are engaged in child labour especially in the unregulated service industries in Kenya. To prevent and respond to child labour issues in this particular industry, Terre des Hommes Netherlands, in strategic partnership with Investing in Children and their Societies (ICS SP), is implementing the Child labour Project known as the, "Action Against Child Labour Project." The 3-year project is being implemented in Matayos and Teso North sub-counties of Busia County as well as at the national level.

Evans Munga

Project Manager- Kenya

The great call and the greatest want of a family ,a society, child protection actors and above all government,is the core duty of providing,and restoring childrenÅ› dignity including and not limited to responding and preventing child labour exploitation.
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Child Labour is a global phenomenon. It exists both in the global south and global north though with a difference in cause and magnitude. Its prevalence is more in developing countries. Millions of children are exposed to hazardous working conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, or working with dangerous machinery.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF report, global estimates 2020, The number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. The reports depict that 35% of Kenyan children are subjected to forced labour and sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking, both within and outside the country.

Although there have been efforts from Kenyan Government to enact laws that should protect children from child labour, this has not been realised. Children are still engaged in child labour more so in the unregulated service industries, the employment of labour monitors has not been effected to support the monitoring of the CL across the county. Busia being a border of Kenya and Uganda has experienced an influx of child labour as there is con control over the movement of children  in and out of Kenya and vis versa. This means that both boys, girls, and children with disabilities are more exposed to exploitation. Children with disabilities are begging on the streets of Busia town and Malaba on the border. 

 In Busia County, our collective project field experiences, data from government systems (CPIMS), and community feedback provide evidence of the existence of child labour  in Teso North and Matayos sub-counties in Busia County. A 2020 report by International Justice Mission  and other NGOs observed that child labour and sexual exploitation of children are often hidden and are facilitated by hotel and lodge owners, bar owners, local tour guides, transportation providers, and sometimes young local women who act as recruiters for younger girls. Following a child protection needs assessment conducted in 2021  by the Joining forces for Africa (JOFA) project, child labour (50%) was among the top four reported CP risks alongside neglect (81.6%), sexual violence (71.1%), and physical violence (50%).

Child labour can involve work that enslaves children, separates them from their families, and condemns them and their families to a downward spiral of poverty and deprivation. It undermines sustainable development and robs countries of one of their richest resources: human capital. It can be simply defined, therefore, as work that, by its nature or the conditions under which it is carried out, harms, abuses, and exploits the child or deprives her or him of an education. It is recognized as one of the most devastating consequences of persistent poverty, and while reducing poverty through economic development is an essential strategy to combat child labour, there is an urgent need for short- and medium-term strategies directly targeting child labour.

Project Goals

The overall goal of the Action Against Child Labour Project is to prevent and respond to child labour with a focus on the service industry. The project will ensure;

  • Children have increased opportunities to access education and acquire relevant life skills and skills for work
  • Families and communities hace strengthened capacity to care for, protect and provide the needs of their children.
  • Strengthened implementation of child labour laws and policies in the service industry.

Project outcomes

The Action Against Child Labour Project design appreciates integrated and participatory approaches involving families and the community (including children) in order to achieve ownership. The project strategies under each outcome are indicated below.

Outcome 1: Children with increased opportunities to access education and acquire relevant life skills and skills for work.

  1. Peer-to-peer approach 
  2. Mentorship and life skills education
  3. Skills training and apprenticeship

Outcome 2: Families and communities with the strengthened capacity to care for, protect and provide for the needs of their children. 

  1. Sensitisation/ awareness creation on children's rights
  2. Community dialogues/conversations 
  3. Skillful parenting/positive parenting 
  4. Economic empowerment/household economic strengthening

Outcome 3: Strengthened implementation of child labour laws and policies in the service industry 

  1. Policy and laws audits/reviews
  2. Policy dialogue and support inadequate implementation of relevant laws
  3. Research, evidence generation, and dissemination
  4. Capacity building for the private sector and government  
  5. Lobby and advocate for ethical business practices in the service industry guided by Children's rights and business principles/UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights
  6. The social accountability

Target beneficiaries

The Action Against Child Labour Project focuses on improving prevention and response to child labour while generating evidence, mobilising and strengthening capacity of key stakeholders including children to advocate for systemic change in the fight against child exploitation in Kenya.

Overall, the project will target a total of 10,000 children aged 7-18 years, 50,000 families and
community members, 2,000 parents and caregivers, 600 formal and informal private sectors, 30
CSOs, and 300 County and National Government Officials.

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