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Malawi, Kenya and Uganda Share Knowledge on Combating Child Labour

In today’s global economy, the issue of child labour continues to be a pressing concern, particularly in industries including tea and coffee production.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), through the ACCEL Africa project, has been spearheading efforts to combat child labour in the tea value chain in countries like Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.

Recently, a study visit was conducted in the three countries, dubbed “Tea-Triangular: Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and the Netherlands Knowledge Sharing to Combat Child Labour in the Tea Value Chain” where different stakeholders from the three countries visited coffee and tea plantations.

After the visit, the stakeholders were brought together on a Knowledge Sharing Workshop, which was held at the Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel on February 22, 2024 to discuss challenges, share experiences, and develop strategies to tackle this critical issue.

Opening the workshop, Secretary for Labour, Mr. Wezi Kaira, highlighted the common challenges faced by Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda in their fight against child labour.

He said the visit will help the countries share best practices and experiences in a quest to improve implementation of child labour interventions to make the tea and coffee sector child labour free.

Minoru Ogasawara, Chief Technical Advisor for the International Labour Organization, emphasized the importance of collaboration between countries and the need for a coordinated approach to address the root causes of child labour in the tea value chain.

“We must put in much effort to combat child labour and protect the rights of our most vulnerable population,” he said.

Christine Ohene, Deputy Labour Commissioner for Kenya and Bursige Nicholas a representative of workers union in Uganda, shared how both countries are grappling with high cases of child labour, particularly in tea and coffee plantations.

Uganda has set a target to completely eliminate child labour by 2030, while Kenya aims to eradicate this vice by 2025. Malawi, on the other hand, as one of the Alliance 8.7 pathfinder countries, aims at eliminating all forms of labour for children by 2025 to reach sustainable development goal 8.7.

The participants at the workshop engaged in discussions around effective policy measures, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, and sustainable practices to eliminate child labour in the tea value chain.

They also explored the role of certification programs, supply chain transparency, and market incentives in promoting responsible sourcing practices and ensuring that products are free from child labour.

One of the key takeaways from the workshop was the need for greater collaboration between government, industry, civil society, and international organizations to address the complex issue of child labour.

Participants stressed the importance of education, social protection programs, and community empowerment initiatives in preventing children from being forced into exploitative labour practices.

The workshop also highlighted the role of consumer awareness and ethical consumerism in driving change within the tea industry.

Minoru Ogasawara announced that western countries would soon stop buying products that are believed to have been produced with child labour.

This shift in demand is expected to incentivize companies to implement robust child labour monitoring and remediation systems throughout their supply chains.

As the fight against child labour in the tea value chain continues, it is clear that a multi-stakeholder approach is essential to achieving meaningful and lasting impact.

The dedication and commitment of countries like Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda to eradicate child labour demonstrate a shared vision for a more just and sustainable future for all children.

The Knowledge Sharing Workshop served as a crucial platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and solidarity in the global effort to combat child labour in the tea sector.

With concerted efforts and collective action, we can create a world where children are protected, empowered, and able to fulfill their potential without the threat of exploitation.

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