World Day Against Child Labour – 8th June 2017

Monday 12th June is World Day Against Child Labour. The focus this year is on protecting children in conflict and disaster zones from becoming child labourers, as according to the ILO, “A significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster.”Disasters, like the Nepal earthquakes in 2015, can have a life shattering effect on children. With almost 9,000 fatalities, and 800,000 houses and 24,000 classrooms damaged or destroyed, thousands of children experienced the death of family, lost their homes and were unable to attend school. The earthquake pushed an additional 1 million people below the poverty line and many families lost everything. In desperate need and with their daily routines in upheaval, children became vulnerable to trafficking and child labour. We noticed a spike in the number of children coming to Pokhara, alone and with their families, and the number of children looking for work.

Nepal already had disturbingly high levels of child labour – in 2015 there were over 2 million children in enforced labour (over 37% of children between the ages of 5-14 work). Kidasha has been working to end child labour in Nepal for 20 years and over the last five years we have reduced child labour in Pokhara by 73%. We’ve achieved this by working with the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry to convince employers to no longer hire children, by working with local government to strengthen child protection laws, with the police to make sure that they prosecute people who break child labour laws, and by working with parents to ensure that that they understand the importance of education and why children should not be working, and have the financial means to support their families without child labour.

We helped the children and families that migrated to Pokhara to set up new lives here, an important part of which was protecting children from child labour by enrolling them in school, getting lone children into a caring environment and helping parents find a way to generate income.

This means a chance at a real childhood for children like Eesha. At age 10 her mother, widowed by the earthquake, sent her to Pokhara with man who promised her that Eesha would earn money for the family and receive an education. Unfortunately, her new employer did not pay her and although she was registered for school she was not allowed to attend. After hearing about Eesha from a concerned neighbour, one of our social workers conducted a workplace assessment and then travelled 200km east of Pokhara to her village in order to conduct a family assessment before reintegrating her with her family.

The employer and the man who brought Eesha to Pokhara were given a police warning and also signed a commitment not to use child labour and not to bring children to work from the village. We also ensured that Eesha was compensated for the four months work she had already done.Eesha is now attending school in her village, with ours and her mother’s support.

Unfortunately, not all children can be immediately taken out of work or reintegrated with their families. For years, we have provided educational support to working and at risk children. Now we are working harder to ensure that employers of child labourers fulfil their commitments by providing for the children’s education themselves. Out of our most recent group of working children, 44 % received educational support paid for by
their employer. However, we remain committed to our ultimate goal of ending child labour in Pokhara.

Kidasha – Ending Child Labour in Nepal–en/index.htm