We need to inspect estates to combat child labour – Minister

Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation, Martha Chanjo Mhone said on Tuesday that there is need to strengthen inspection and monitoring of tobacco and tea estates and other areas where cases of child labour are rampant.

Chanjo Mhone (R) and Tromp

Mhone was speaking during a handover ceremony of a vehicle donated to the ministry by International Labour Organization. She said eradication of issues of child labour is dependent on mobility of inspectors to areas where the practices are rampant.

She added that there is need to step up action, including intensifying inspections, awareness programme, and withdrawal of victims of child labour, rehabilitation and reintegration.

“There is need for inspection in farms where they grow tobacco and tea to intensify awareness on the effects of child labour on children to the development of the country,” she said.

Mhone said child labour is still rampant in the country as evidenced by the 2015 National Child Labour Survey, which revealed a prevalence rate of 38 per cent.

“In order to eliminate child labour by 2025 and forced labour by 2030, we need to accelerate action, including intensifying inspections,” he said.

She said the vehicle has been donated at an opportune time when the country ratified ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention and three Occupational Safety and Health Conventions.

“During an audience I had with ILO Director General on 7th November, 2019 in Geneva, during the official deposit of the ratification instruments, I reaffirmed Malawi’s commitment to take measures to eradicate child labour and forced labour, including trafficking in persons,” she said.

She further appealed for more support in mobility, saying government alone cannot afford to purchase adequate vehicles.

“We have managed to provide vehicles for our Regional Labour Offices but not in our District Labour Offices, therefore, I appeal for more support so that inspection and monitoring should be done,” she said.

Senior Project Officer for ILO, Dylan Van Tromp said the vehicle which ILO donated was purchased for an outgoing development cooperation project entitled ‘Strengthening Social Dialogue in selected countries to combat hazardous child labour in Tobacco growing’.

He said through the project, ILO built the capacity of district councils which resulted in the mainstreaming of child labour in district development plans (DDPs) and raising awareness at district level.

Tromp said the vehicle was donated to the ministry to ease mobility for officers in their work of protecting children.

ILO is supporting the Ministry of Gender in various projects such as promoting decent work in the tea sector, Accelerating Action for Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa and an upcoming project on the integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in tobacco sector.

By Fostina Mkandawire – Mana

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