The Investing in Children and Societies (a Non-Governmental Organization) in collaboration with Terre de homes Netherlands (an international child relief agency), will launch a child labour project in Busia County, with a view to addressing child labour issues within the border county.
The three-year project will be implemented in Busia/ Matayos and Teso North Sub counties and other parts of the country.
Speaking during the project inception meeting at a hotel in Busia town Tuesday, the project manager Evans Manga said that the project aims at reducing and eliminating all forms of child labor Industry.
“Busia being a porous border and a county that has entry and exit from the neighboring countries has labour issues,” he said, adding that the project will be implemented from March 2022 to March 2025.
Manga added that the project will also focus in all areas children within the service sectors, community members and key stakeholders at both the County and National level.
“We are going to engage children at the school and community level, community members including parents, county and National government officers in different areas to realize the outcome of this program,” he said.
He at the same time disclosed that a baseline survey will be carried out to map the hot spots areas of child labour in other parts of the County, adding that the exercise may be escalated to other parts of the County depending on survey findings.
Caroline Bundu who leads a child protection project in the two sub counties said that the Labour project will strengthen the fight against child violation like child labour that are not being addressed comprehensively currently.
Bundu noted that a number of children engage in child labour because of the inability of their families to provide their daily needs.
“With the new child labour project, vulnerable families will be linked to economic interventions so that parents engage in activities that would complement the already undermined income that was worsened by the impacts of covid-19,” she said.
She explained that children will be at the centre of the project by ensuring that they are actors in making decisions in what is affecting them.
“For instance, the child rights clubs in schools will be strengthened so that children can identify issues that affect them,” she said.
Busia County Director of Children Services Esther Wasige said that the child labour is so rampant in the County.
Wasige pointed out that some of the children are sent out by guardians to get money to support their families.
“Sometimes they do it on their own,” she said, adding that some come from Uganda to look for jobs while others transit to other parts of the country.
She singled out domestic households, hotels and clubs at the lake, commercial sex exploitation and sand harvesting as the sectors where children are exploited.
“We also have children in Teso South and North who carry out sand harvesting,” she said, adding that a number of children who ventured in boda boda operation during covid-19 pandemic have dropped out of school.
The Director stated that her department is working closely with other partners to sensitize the local residents on the negative effects of child labour and what they can do to support their children to go to school.
“We also want the children to know what child labour is and what child work is so that they do not refuse to help their parents at home purporting that it is labour,” she said.
Wasige warned that those found employing children in any sector risked being arrested and prosecuted in court.
Busia Deputy County Commissioner Kipchumba Ruto reiterated that the vice is rampant across the county.
Ruto added that there was a need to round up the children and take them back to school so that they can have a better future.
“We have both local and International laws like the Children’s Act, but implementation has been very wanting,” he said.
He explained that children should be allowed to develop mentally, spiritually, psychologically and not be subjected to harmful labour practices.