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Fighting child labour during a pandemic: an example from Uganda

In Uganda the COVID-19 lockdowns and school closings significantly affected rural communities heightening risks of child labour and other supply chain concerns. With global estimates of child labour on the increase, the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation putting millions more children at risk. Now more than ever it is critical for the public and private sector to join forces, pool resources, and take a systemic and thorough approach to support farmers and families and ECLA Uganda has been doing just this.

Coordinating from the ground up

Through the programmes on the ground, ECLA Uganda, and engagement with relevant stakeholders across sectors (since 2013), ECLT takes a two-pronged approach to fight child labour -- directly reaching children, farmers and families in Hoima and Kikuube districts, while also supporting cross-sectoral collaboration, and the development, and implementation of strong national and district level frameworks to strengthen protection of all children in Uganda.

Thorough research for stronger policies

ECLT engages relevant stakeholders and provides technical assistance for:

• Increased understanding of Child Labour in Uganda

The child labour survey report in Albertine region by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) covering Hoima and Kikuube districts was launched on 8th April 2021 in Hoima. Participants from the private sector, the government, the media, cultural and religious institutions, and civil society learned about some of the underlying challenges and innovative solutions with to tackle child labour. The dissemination and launch was jointly organised by ECLA Uganda, local government and UBOS. This critical piece of research will help inform stronger policies and more targeted programmes for a more impactful and sustainable approach in the fight against child labour.

• Supporting national and district level child labour policies

Strong policies at national and distric levels means that children who were involved in child labour are less likely to move from one supply chain to another, or one form of vulnerability to another. For this reason, ECLA Uganda has supported national and district led initiatives in the fight against child labour including the following:

In a world's first, the Government of Uganda adapted the National Action Plan on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour 2020/21 – 2024/25 to the new challenges posed by COVID-19. ECLA Uganda, and other key stakeholders, supported the integration of COVID-19 implications on child labour into the plan, which was launched on May 1st 2021.

ECLA Uganda also collaborated with the Hoima and Kikuube District Technical Working Groups on the development of the District Action Plans on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

Working together to reach more in Uganda

ECLT and ECLA Uganda worked closely with the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) with a special focus on eliminating child labour within and beyond supply chains. A rapid assessment on the economic impact of COVID-19 was conducted by the FUE, the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) and ECLA Uganda jointly. The outcome of the survey will help identify areas where families, farmers, and small business owners need support. As poverty is one of the root causes of child labour, understanding this context helps tailor specific programmes with immediate impact.

Since 2013, the ECLT Foundation has funded the REALISE project, implemented by local partners UWESO to support children, farmers, and families. External evaluation of REALISE has shown a 57% decrease in overall child labour in communities directly served and, more broadly, an over 10% decrease in child labour in other agricultural communities in the Hoima district.

REALISE Impact 2019-2021

  • 31,000+ children withdrawn, prevented and protected from child labour

  • 43,500+ adults learned about the dangers of child labour, new business skills & to manage finances

  • 9,700+ parents and guardians learned how to manage finances and new business skills

  • 200 young people graduated from skill training and can now access decent work