Patience Gbeze, GNA
Accra, Sept. 29 GNA - The Joint regional workshop for Rural Workers’ and Small Producers’ organizations to exchange experiences against child labour opened in Accra with a call on partners to join the fight to eliminate the menace.
Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, who made the call, said the scenario of child labour in Africa is frightening and called for renewed, intensified and concerted effort to achieve SDGs target 8.7 and eradicate all forms of child labour by 2025.
Thirteen African countries and representatives from four organizations are participating in the three-day joint regional workshop is being organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agricultural Organization and General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) to exchange ideas, experiences and find a solution for the elimination of child labour in the sub region.
The countries include: Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The organizations are ILO, IUF, FAO and NECPAD.
Mr Awuah said the ILO estimated that almost half of child labourers about 72.1 million of the 152 million.
He said it was worrisome to note that in terms of prevalence, one in five children in Africa (19.6 per cent) are in child labour, compared to between three per cent and seven per cent prevalence in other regions of the world, with an overwhelming concentration in agriculture including fishing, forestry, animal husbandary and aquaculture, which are the predominant Occupations in almost all African countries.
“In Ghana for example, issues of child labour have further been mainstreamed in the national and sub national implementation plans, including sector-specific programmes and projects driven by government and private sector partners to address the menace.
He said the onus lies on the government, employers, Workers’, parents, Civil Society Organizations, the media and the international community to support policy responses that strengthen social protection and fundamental human rights.
“Indeed part of the way forward, lie in the much talked about Torkor Model that seeks to strengthen the capacity of informal economy Workers’ to combat child trafficking through enhanced social responsibility, occupational safety and health and improved productivity, which we are piloting in Ghana can be a starting point,” he said.
The Minister commended GAWU and its foreign partners for organizing the workshop and also championing the elimination of child labour in the country and pledged the ministry's support in that direction.
Mr Edward Kareweh, General Secretary of GAWU, said GAWU being a union of change started the child labour struggle way back in the year 2004 and expressed the hope that the workshop would provide all participants the opportunity to share experiences, brainstorm, diagnose and propose ways of integrating and addressing child labour in the sector.
He said GAWU initiated the Torkor Model, which seeks to address the key component of SDGs target 8.7, on forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and migration.
The model, he said, uses Torkor as an example try point to address the endemic nature of child labour on the Volta lake by applying its three components of organization of informal Workers; social mobilization through capacity building and sensitization, and knowledge sharing.
He said the hazardous Nature of agricultural work makes it crucially important to integrate. Hold labour and youth employment concerns in the organizing and bargaining agenda of rural Workers’ Producers’ Organizations, including cooperatives and Unions.
He said amidst the risky nature of agriculture, only about two thirds of all child labour, occurred in agriculture and its various sub-regions, including fishing, aquaculture and forestry.
Mr Kawereh said that notwithstanding, harnessing the rural economy’s potential to create decent and productive jobs and shared prosperity is imperative to achieving sustainable development and equitable economic growth.
He said however, rural areas in many economies and in all regions are characterized by significant decent work deficits, adding, “Unions therefore cannot pretend not to notice what is happening”.
Mr Joseph Kingsley Amoah, Head of Internal Relations, Ghana Employment Association, said child labour denied children their childhood, regular education and good health as well as putting the quality of the labour force under threat.
He said the major causative agent of child labour, from the days of old till date, has been poverty and to raise incomes and make child labour redundant, advance technology need to be intensified in the sector.
He emphasized the need to mechanize agriculture to ensure high production, income stability as well as making child labour necessarily inferior.
“This we believed will empower parents to increase their labour supply at the expense of their children