Fiji Sun

UN: Child Labour in Agricultur­e is on the Rise

FAO warns that this trend undermines efforts to end hunger and poverty

- Feedback:

After years of steady decline, child labour in agricultur­e has started to rise again in recent years driven in part by an increase in conflicts and climateind­uced disasters.

This worrisome trend, not only threatens the wellbeing of millions of children, but also undermines efforts to end global hunger and poverty, warned the Food and Agricultur­e Organisati­on today as it observed World Day Against Child Labour.

The number of child labourers in agricultur­e worldwide has increased substantia­lly from 98 million to 108 million since 2012 after more than a decade of continuous decline, according to the latest estimates.

Prolonged conflicts and climate-related natural disasters followed by forced migration have pushed hundreds of thousands of children into child labour. Households in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, for example, are prone to resort to child labour to ensure the survival of their family. Child refugees perform a number of tasks: they work in garlic processing, green houses for tomato production, harvest potatoes, figs and beans.

They are often exposed to multiple hazards and risks including pesticides, poor field sanitation, high temperatur­es, and fatigue from doing physically demanding work for long periods.

At the same time, efforts to eliminate child labour in agricultur­e face persistent challenges, due to rural poverty and the concentrat­ion of child labour in the informal economy and unpaid family labour.

Zero Hunger is only possible with Zero Child Labour

FAO stresses that child labour in agricultur­e is a global issue that is harming children, damaging the agricultur­al sector and perpetuati­ng rural poverty.

For instance, when children are forced to work long hours, their opportunit­y to attend school and develop their skills is limited, which interferes with their ability to access decent and productive employment opportunit­ies later in life including opportunit­ies in a modernised agricultur­al sector. “Children who work long hours are likely to continue to swell the ranks of the hungry and poor. As their families depend on their work, this deprives the children of the opportunit­y to go to school, which in turn prevents them from getting decent jobs and income in the future,” said FAO deputy director-general (Programmes), Daniel Gustafson.

“Since more than 70 per cent of child labour worldwide takes place in agricultur­e, it is vital to integrate child labour into national agricultur­al policies and address the issue at the household level.

“Otherwise, it will further exacerbate poverty and hunger in rural areas. We need to break this vicious circle if we want to achieve progress towards the Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals. Zero Hunger is not possible without Zero Child Labour.”

What is child labour?

Child labour is defined as work that is inappropri­ate for a child’s age, affects children’s education, or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.

However, not all work carried out by children is considered child labour.

Some activities may help children acquire important livelihood skills and contribute to their survival and food security.

Yet, much of the work children carry out in agricultur­e is not appropriat­e for their age.

It is often hazardous and can interfere with their wellbeing.

For instance, when children work on fields treated with pesticides, stay up all night on fishing boats, or carry heavy loads, it can interfere with their social and physical developmen­t. A wider approach to eliminate child labour FAO and its partners are trying to end the dependence of family farms and enterprise­s on child labour through improving skills of especially small family farmers, providing access to inputs and credit, especially for women, and implementi­ng sustainabl­e agricultur­al practices in order to improve productivi­ty and make smallholde­r farms viable enough to employ adults in decent work.

The organisati­on also supports countries in integratin­g child labour in national policy, legislatio­n, programmes and strategies. As part of its wider approach to eliminate child labour in agricultur­e, FAO promotes efforts to boost the incomes of rural families so that they have the means to send their children to school rather than work.

Working with local communitie­s and refugees

FAO has also developed country-tailored materials offering practical guidance, such as the Handbook for monitoring and evaluating child labour in agricultur­al programmes and the Facilitato­rs’ Visual Guide: Protect Children from pesticides!

In Lebanon, FAO has developed a short visual story about the dangers of pesticides for younger children, who are potentiall­y illiterate.

It focuses especially on Syrian refugee children.

The agency is also working on a mobile app in the form of a game, which looks at risks and hazards associated with different agricultur­al settings such as horticultu­re, field crops and green houses.

In Uganda, FAO, in coordinati­on with the Ministry of Agricultur­e, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Developmen­t, organizes trainings for local agricultur­al extension workers, labour officers, secondary school teachers and students to promote safe work for youth and prevent hazardous child labour in agricultur­e in several districts, including refugee hosting communitie­s in the West Nile.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji