Agriculture is the largest sector in Malawi and provides an income for 84% of the total population. Children in rural families often work alongside their parents to contribute to their household incomes and meet basic needs, sometimes doing work which is both hard and hazardous at their age. Nearly 2 million children are doing work that puts their health, safety and development at risk in Malawi.
ECLT in Malawi
ECLT has been working with implementing partners Save the Children International, Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM), Total Land Care (TLC), and Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in Malawi to support rural communities to fight child labour. In the past 3 years alone, over 21,700 children and 8,000 adults have participated in projects to teach them about the dangers of child labour, access education, earn a better income, and improve their nutrition. Tackling the root causes of child labour is crucial to bringing sustainable change.
Earning a steady income is a challenge in the agricultural sector. In Malawi, 71% of the population earn less than $1.90 per day. Poor harvests, natural disasters and illness can all put strain on a household’s finances, often children end up having to work with their families. Village savings and loan groups bring together community members to pool their savings and loan. These groups often increase the financial stability of members, meaning they can afford to send their children to school all year round and even start their own businesses.
Kankhoka school in Malawi is one of the beneficiary schools of Schools Feeding Programme, which harvests maize and soya beans. The school has since been in a position to provide a meal for all the students. 80% of children at Kankhoka school are now attending full-time. Improving nutritious is just one effective way to keep kids healthy and away from child labour. In the last 3 years,19,915 children have received school meals and over 1,500 children received scholarships.
The ILO noted that there is a decent work deficit in all sectors in Malawi. By encouraging youth to participate in job skills training they are able to access new work opportunities, earn a better living and break the cycle of poverty. In the past 3 years, 290 teenagers have graduated from ECLT supported job skills training programmes in Malawi. Occupational Safety and Health training also helps farmers and young people learn about hazards at work and how to avoid them. Since 2016, over 4,500 people have learnt about dangerous work for children and how to prevent it. Job skills training provides young people with the necessary tools to access decent work opportunities, breaking the cycle of poverty and child labour.
ECLT’s projects aim to adopt a holistic approach, giving local ownership to the programmes and bringing long-lasting change to rural communities. Learn more about ECLT’s impact here: eclt.org/impact