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21.05.2004 Regional News

Workshop on prevention of child labour opens

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Sogakope (V/R), May 21, GNA - A workshop to develop a local pool of trainers for the education of farmers to effectively prevent and eliminate child labour in commercial agriculture in West Africa opened in Sogakope on Thursday.

Dubbed "Pilot test of training of trainers manual for farmers", the five-day workshop would test a draft manual for farmers on child labour elimination prepared by the West African Cocoa/Agriculture Project (WACAP), the project spearheading child labour elimination in the agricultural sector in the sub-region.

It is being organised jointly by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and WACAP in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment.

Thirty participants, made up of social, labour and agricultural experts from Ghana, Nigeria Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Guinea, would be given skills and knowledge in the use of the WACAP manual for farmers. Areas to be examined at the workshop include, the worst forms and hazardous nature of child labour, international and national response, sensitisation and mobilisation, social protection and an alternative monitoring and surveillance of child labour.

Others are labour in relation to gender and poverty, developing community ownership to end child labour, creation and dissemination of knowledge on the issue, international and national legislations, policies and practices as well as objectives, methodologies and processes of child labour.

Opening the workshop, Mr Samuel Yahaya, Assistant Chief Labour Officer of the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, said child labour does not accord the chance for the qualitative development of children and has become a great setback to the present and future development of countries.

He said apart from being badly treated and not rewarded for their labour, children involved in child labour are refused opportunities to become useful citizens of their countries.

Mr Yahaya said conventions and actions had been employed in the past to tackle the issue but to no avail.

He said stakeholders including international organisations have become aware that the issue was of a traditional nature, which needed to be tackled at the root through sensitisation of communities and reduction of poverty, which is the main cause of the canker. Mr Yahaya said though some parents were aware of the dangers their children faced working at tender ages, they are forced to push them in, to help increase the family income.

Mr Georges Ntumba, Chief Technical Advisor of IPEC/WACAP, said child labour amounts to the abuse of human rights, in that the children are prevented from having their education and are not safe on account of ill-treatments meted out to them by their employers.

He said if the problem of child labour is understood, the process of elimination could be less cumbersome and appealed to participants to take the ILO/IPEC/WACAP initiative seriously to get all communities involved to make the eradication drive easier.

ILO estimates that more than 250 million children of between five and 14 years are engaged in economic activity the world over, 70 per cent of which, is in the agricultural sector, particularly in developing countries.

WACAP, is a sub-regional project under the ILO/IPEC and aims at eliminating the worst kinds of child labour in the cocoa and other agricultural sub-sectors in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon and Guinea.

The project, which is being funded by the US Department of Labour and the International Confectionary Association (ICA), estimates that about 7,900 children under the age of 18 would be withdrawn from child labour in the sub-region, educated and made aware of the dangers in child labour.

WACAP, with its secretariat in Accra has withdrawn 2,000 children in child labour since 2001 and prevented about 70,000 children of between 13-18 years from engaging in hazardous work in addition to strengthening the income capacity of 500 families. 21 May 04