Multi-sectoral Approach is needed to deal with the estimated 300 children who drop out of school every year to work in gold mines in Nyatike, Suna East, Suna West and Kuria West.
Migori County Director of Children Services John Odinya blamed poverty among many households as being the main reason pushing many children to provide labour in the goldmines to support their families in terms of food and clothing. He said the situation is aggravated by the fact that some homes are headed by children due to death of parents or separation.
The Director called on Migori residents and willing non-state organisations to support government initiatives aimed to protect children. “Child labour is majorly reported in Migori rural sugar cane plantations, gold mines and around the lake,’’ he disclosed.
Odinya said government Inua Jamii Cash Transfer Funds, support bursary programs alongside women and youth funding programs are meant to cushion households with extreme poverty by boosting their incomes and empowering them through education.
He admitted that the government efforts to address child labour in gold mines, sugar cane plantation and the shores of Lake Victoria was recording remarkable success due concerted awareness campaign. The Director advised residents to report cases of child labour or school drop outs so that appropriate action can be taken.
On his part Migori County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich in a recent meeting in Migori town said chiefs and their assistants were under firm instructions to ensure that no school child remains at home or seen working in gold mines.
Cherutich said chiefs were in contact with head teachers to ensure children remain in school to prevent them from drugs and substance abuse which keep them out of class.
Commissioner Cherutich revealed that various government agencies and security organs had taken up child labour as urgent and were ensuring appropriate action against those who violate government directives.
Cherutich also said cases of child sexual harassment or any other forms of abuse that frustrates children development are handled immediately and appropriately by county security agencies.
According to the county Sexual Gender Based Violence Policy report launched early this year half of children aged between 5-14 years are engaged in child labour.
By Geoffrey Satia