ARUA. The community empowerment for rural development (CEFORD), a non-governmental organization operating in West Nile has raised concern over the increasing rate of child labour in the region.
According to a report released by the organization, during the last two months of Covid-19 lock down, more children have been engaged in farming activities, road side businesses and caretaking by their parents thus depriving them of their rights.
Speaking to journalists over the weekend, Mr John Bosco Okai, the head of stop child labour in W. Nile, a campaign currently being spearheaded by CEFORD in the region noted that many children especially in the districts of Nebbi, Zombo and Arua are heavily engaged in farming activities.
He identified some of the common activities taking toll on child labour as coffee and tea planting, weeding and harvesting, while many others are engaged in food vending and alcohol brewing especially the girl child.
“Many parents have ignored their role in ensuring that children participate in the continuous learning through radios and television during the Covid-19 lock down,” Okai said.
Meanwhile Ms Jane Asipkwe Christabel, the executive director of CEFORD said there is urgent need for all players to ensure that children are protected from being subjected to tasks that can deter their physical and intellectual growth.
She, however, appealed to parents to ensure that children are given opportunity to continue learning and be prevented from cases of gender-based violence, which she says has become common in communities due to the lock down.
Similarly, Mr Samuel Ocaki, the Zombo district community development officer acknowledged that many children both in and out of school are entangled in several activities that tantamount to child labour in the district.
He said the situation of child labour in Zombo district is being worsened by the coffee business where many children are used to sort coffee seeds as some flock markets to carry excess load for their parents.
CEFORD is currently working with 23 child labor committees and village savings and loan associations in the sub-counties of Erussi, Abanga and Paidha in Nebbi and Zombo districts to promote savings and rights of children during the Covid-19 lock down.
On Friday June 12, 2020, Uganda joined the rest of the world in commemorating the world day against child labour with the focus on the impact of crisis on child labour.
The day was marked in light of the Covid-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock that is having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
Already, there are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working for longer hours.