Child Labour Augment: pandemic pushing millions again in peril

Child Labour has always been a deplorable part of our society. Contrarily in recent decades, a ray of hope, of its near-eradication was seen; when the report by UNICEF read that since 2000, 94 million children are pulled out of Child Labour Trap. But the ray now seems to be fluctuation because of the novel coronavirus.

The global Pandemic is an honest mistake for children who were already drenched in poverty. Guy Ryder, Director-General of International Labour Organisation says; “As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,”

Child Labour

Many don’t usually realize how deeply child labour is rooted in our surroundings. We ourselves use the products whose some portion is manufactured by labours of a very young age.

For example, take chocolates; whose most important ingredient in cocoa, about 60% of the chocolate is made out of it. Cocoa is cultivated in the Ivory Coast of Ghana. Here children have been work on the field as labours for a very long time. In the Ivory Coast, the 10% fall incomes result in 5% increment in the number of underaged labours.

International Cocoa Initiative’s report which was drawn out of 50 studies reveals; how income changes influence child labour. The report says that child labour is inversely proportional to family incomes; it tends to increases when the family’s earning decrease.

In the past two decades with all hands on the deck, some remarkable furtherance has been done; as a result, 94 million children were pulled out of labour up. But still a lurching, 152 million children are engaged as Child labourers, International Labour Organisation.

Distribution of Child labour

Global Estimates of Child Labour
Image: International Labour Organisation

The above picture by ILO shows the destruction of child labourers in different sectors. 70.9% of these young labourers are indulged in the agricultural activities; which are dangerous, and extremely exhausting is done for long hours.

Despite being illegal, a large portion of people let children work. In the service and industrial sector 17.2% and 11.9% of children labourers is an astonishing percentage; because most of these fields are under the strict surveillance of auditors; despite that such huge percentage denoted the faulty sides of the system.

What is the impact of the pandemic?

The coronavirus triggered pandemic have risked the progress world have done in reducing child labourers. For understanding the consequences of the pandemic on child labours; we should first understand what is the main cause of child labour.

  • The foremost reason for child labour is poverty. Poor people when are not able to fulfil the need of the family; they are forced to push their children in earning a livelihood.
  • Human trafficking, the trafficked children are usually pushed to work, at a very early age.
  • Lack of education
  • For supporting family, children start working at a very young age.

The pandemic have hit very hard, economically. Lack of earning is a huge risk to children. Schools all around the world are close, leaving children vulnerable than ever before.

Children in the primary school used to receive mid-day meal; according to world health organisation 320 million students are missing their mid-day meal. Parents don’t have money to buy a meal, therefore children have to force themselves to work. Pandemic has increased violence against children.

How to tackle With Child labour?

No magic bullet

There is no magic bullet to eradicate child labour all at once. We have to come up with practical solutions to tackle, because it is rooted very deep into our world.

All children working on the field would not be considered as child labour. Children working on their own fields, helping their parents on holidays and weekends is an important part of learning. The problem of working on the field starts when it becomes a hurdle in their study. Parents are also sometimes bound to take help of their children on the field.

We have to come up with something that would be beneficial for the farmer as well as the child. If we try to ban children completely from the field; it would not do very good for the farmer; and the farmer would hide the child while the auditors visit on the field. This way child labour becomes extremely hard to detect, while children suffer in silence.

In cocoa farming at Ivory Coast, the estimated yearly earning is $2,900. The defined income for leading a good life is $5,448 yearly. When the incomes are less and expenses are more; the farmer would surely not be able to afford labourers during the cultivation and harvesting season. So, the most immediate and easy option available to the farmer is his/her child.

Something innovative is needed

An organisation which working in providing a better life to the farmer Rainforest Alliance; is tackling the situation with ‘assess and address’. This initiative helps the farmer to deal with the core reason for child labour. In this, the farmers would have to form an internal committee; that would be accountable for not letting children become labours. The farmers could seek their supply chain acquaintances to tackle the problem of child labours. This way is an effective way to deal and slowly eradicate the problem of child labour.

The government need to have more strict laws against child labours. The pandemic has caused huge disruption in almost every field. But we cannot let it destroy the progress that took us two decades.