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NGO enlists Media in the fight against child labour

Journalists in Busia, Kenya, and Uganda have been trained to ensure that they rally behind the fight against child labour.

Speaking to the press during the capacity-building session at a hotel in Busia, the leader of the Action Against Child Labour Project in Terre des Homes, Evans Munga, said that media was a very important component to creating awareness in a language the community understood better.

‘We have the local media, mainstream media, and a section of media houses from Uganda so that we can strengthen the efforts of the fourth estate in amplifying the fight against child labour,’ he said.

Munga stated that the project recently conducted a baseline assessment in Matayos and Teso North Sub Counties that showed that 45 per cent of children who are going to school and 55 per cent of children who are out of school are engaged in child labour.

‘If you look at the reports from the ILO and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, they both reveal that Busia is so much affected,’ he said.

He added that the ILO further indicates that in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, 1.3 million children are involved in child labour.

‘Being a porous border also makes Busia susceptible to issues of child labour, including child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child labour,’ he said, adding that the poverty index in the county stands at 83 per cent.

The official pointed out that poverty is one of the factors driving children into child labour, adding that sand harvesting is rampant in Teso North and Bunyala Sub counties.

“Children also tend to be the source of cheap labour in hotels, restaurants, bars, and fish markets,’ he said, adding that a number of children enrol for examinations in school, disappear, and come back to sit for examinations because they are engaged in some businesses elsewhere.

Munga said at the same time that the organisation is also strengthening the capacity of government agencies like the Department of Children Services, the Department of Labour, and the administrative units in both the county and national governments.

‘As we speak, the project is carrying out an audit of policies in Kenya so that they are put in such perspective to ensure that they are fit to support the work and complement what the government is doing,’ he said.

Busia County Director of Children Services Esther Wasige said that the media is a very strong partner to work with in all areas of child protection.

“This is because media will reach people whom we might not be able to reach, and they can communicate better in languages that the local communities understand better,” she said.

Wasige added that accurate and continuous sensitization leads to behaviour change in the local communities.

“We have also engaged the media from Uganda because we encourage cross-border engagement,” she said, adding there is a need to protect children from both sides.

By Salome Alwanda and Victoria Magar

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