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Netherlands joins fight against child labour

Busia County Commissioner Sam Ojwang’ has put those abetting any form of child abuse or labour on notice adding that they risk facing the consequences of their actions.

Speaking at a hotel during the launch of a three-year child labour project dubbed “Komesha Ajira kwa Watoto” and funded by Netherlands government, Ojwang’ challenged all agencies involved in child protection arena to either take action against the perpetrators or action be taken against them for abetting child injustice.

“Child labour restricts children of their rights and limits their future opportunities. We must ensure that every child has equal access to education, good health and is free from exploitations. This will be achieved through sensitization, implementation of child protection policies and coordination of efforts by State and non-State actors,” noted Ojwang.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF report 2020, the number of children in child labour has risen to160 million. The report depicted that 35% of Kenyan children are subjected to forced labour, sexual exploitation and sometimes entangled in human trafficking, both within and outside the country.

Busia being a border county, it continues to experience rampant cases of child labour as children are often trafficked to work as house helps or attendants in the service industry.

According to Country Director Terre de Hommes (Netherlands) organization Magdalene Wanza, poverty, social norms and legislation gaps are among challenge factors that hinder child justice in Busia County.

Terre des Hommes Netherland (TdH NL) has agreed to enter a strategic partnership with Kenya to the tune of Euro 900,000 with Investing in Children and their Society (ICS SP) with Busia County and National governments on a three-year project dubbed “Action Against Labour Project” that focuses on exposing and eliminating child labour and all its forms in the service industry.

“Children are the most vulnerable members of society. When their rights are not fully protected, they end up losing their childhood,” said Wanza.

A case study of Matayos and Teso North Sub counties attributed the 83% poverty index of Busia County to orphan-hood due to HIV/Aids, Covid-19 aftermath and limited knowledge on child labour acts all of which contribute to child labour.

Addressing participants from both National and Busia County governments together with non-State actors, ICS Executive Director Beatrice Ogutu called on collaborative partnership amongst all actors in the fight against child labour and other forms of child abuse.

“Many children work in hazardous and exploitative situations as cheap labour through their parents and friends. Busia being a border county it’s extremely hard to tame these acts, as children continue to move from Uganda to Busia Kenya in search of employment,” noted Ogutu.

To complement existing efforts made by the Kenyan government to protect children from child labour, the Action Against Child Labour (AACL) project will be implemented to ensure: increased opportunities for children to access education and acquire relevant life skills for work, families and community have strengthened capacity to protect and provide for the needs of their children and the general implementation of polices.

The three-year project targets 10,000 children aged 7-18 years, 50,000 families and community members, 2000 parents and caregivers among other actors both in Busia County and National governments.

By Absalom Namwalo and Salome Alwanda

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