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Investment and Collaboration: ILO Decent Work Strategy in Key Tobacco-growing Countries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 12 December 2019

The recent approval of a new International Labour Organization strategy opens doors to fight child labour and promote decent work in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Through this “Integrated Strategy,” the ILO will invest 1.6 million USD per country over 3 years.

The strategy reaffirms the ILO’s commitment to engage Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, and companies to address the root causes of decent work deficits, including child labour and hazardous work, in the tobacco sector.

“This Strategy is an important step to strengthen and sustain collaborative global efforts to support the 40 million farmers and families who depend on tobacco growing for a living, many in Southern and Eastern Africa,” explained Nicholas McCoy, Director of Advocacy and Engagement at the ECLT Foundation.

A model to tackle child labour and promote decent work in agriculture

Cooperation is at the heart of the ILO’s Integrated Strategy, bringing together Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, and the private sector to promote strong government policy and multistakeholder cooperation, as well as to provide direct assistance to address challenges in the tobacco sector, including child labour and economic diversification.

“There is a real opportunity for Governments, Unions and the private sector in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to play a key role here,” said McCoy, “not only in how efforts can benefit farmers, workers, and their families in those countries, but also in shaping a global intervention model, including services and investment.” In addition to the ILO’s funding commitment, the Organization will continue to mobilise various sustainable sources of funding from the public and private sectors, with proper safeguards in place.

An important collaborative agreement building on past success

The ILO Integrated Strategy was developed over 3 years as part of a discussion between Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, the ILO, and other United Nations Agencies. Partner organisations, like the ECLT Foundation, closely followed the debates because of the significant impact that the strategy will have to improve lives and livelihoods of children, farmers and families in areas where tobacco is grown.

During the debates, the strength of working together was highlighted in several ILO documents stressing how public-private partnerships with the tobacco sector were successful and surpassed set objectives. A 2019 technical meeting in Kampala provided a floor for additional discussions, where it was well noted that tobacco is a legal crop, which sustains livelihoods of millions of people and requires multi-stakeholder collaboration to continue progress.

Efforts in the 4 countries will build on the successes of past ILO public-private partnerships. This includes work done with the ECLT Foundation and Japan Tobacco International’s ARISE Programme, which have already supported over 220,000 children, families, farmers, and workers in areas where tobacco is grown, since 2011:

  • getting children out of child labour and helping them go to and stay in school,
  • building the skills of young people to find decent work,
  • training farmers to make farms safer workplaces,
  • working with lawmakers and authorities to strengthen national action plans and policies on child labour to protect children in areas where tobacco is grown, and beyond.

“The ECLT Foundation remains a committed partner in progressively and sustainably eliminating child labour and will follow the call of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the new ILO Strategy to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders at national and international levels,” affirmed Karima Jambulatova, ECLT Executive Director. “We stand ready to support governments and other stakeholders moving forward in 2020.”

Media Inquiries: media@eclt.org