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Renewed Commitments Across Sectors to Fight Child Labour in Malawi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 16 June 2019

This World Day Against Child Labour, the ILO shared that COVID-19 could push millions more children into child labour. Now more than ever it is critical to renew commitments for effective and sustainable solutions in the fight against child labour. To mark the day, the Government of Malawi has made the new National Action Plan on Child Labour (NAP II, 2020 – 2025) publicly available.

The ECLT Foundation is encouraged by the successful collaborative approach the Government of Malawi has taken to develop NAP II. The NAP II consultations brought together Government ministries, employers, farmers, workers, development partners, communities, district officials and the ILO.

Through the NAP II, there is now a clear, multi-stakeholder way forward to improve the protection offered to children against child labour and promote decent work throughout Malawi. National Action Plans are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to bringing systemic change in the fight against child labour. They show commitment, set nation-wide standards for various actors and provide a framework to monitor and assess progress.

Child Labour in Malawi

In Malawi, an estimated 38% of children aged 5-17 years are involved in child labour, most of which is in agriculture, a backbone to the country’s economy. Robust and sustainable solutions against child labour must take into account the complex realities faced by children, farmers and families, including within the national context of tenancy and crop auctioning systems. Supply chains need to be vigorously tracked and appropriate corrective measures taken.

The first National Action Plan (2010 – 2016) successfully brought together stakeholders to discuss and agree on best practices in the fight against child labour and pushed forward activities for prevention, withdrawal and remediation. The US Department of Labour has recognised that moderate progress has been made against child labour in Malawi, both at policy and community levels. However, with 2 million children still involved in child labour in Malawi, the new NAP II aims and is poised to continue to accelerate multi-stakeholder progress.

A New Approach in the Fight against Child Labour

To accelerate progress in the elimination of child labour, NAP II takes the best practices identified in the first National Action Plan a step further and focuses on implementation towards achieving the six following objectives.

    1. The creation of a conducive legal & policy environment
    1. Capacity building for stakeholders engaged in child labour elimination activities
    1. Improve awareness of child labour and its impact on development
    1. Direct engagement in the prevention, withdrawal and rehabilitation of children involved in child labour
    1. Respond and mitigate chronic illnesses associated with child labour
    1. increased surveys for monitoring & evaluation of progress.

For each output, NAP II outlines a system of activities, and allocates a means of monitoring and evaluation, the responsible stakeholder(s) and an annual budget to each of these. Working together to strengthen efforts

NAP II shows a strong commitment to harmonise efforts both in the drafting process and in its guidance for implementation. The Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports, and Manpower Development will play a central role in providing leadership for the coordination of all relevant stakeholders including, other Ministries of the Government of Malawi, NGOs, employers and workers associations, academic institutions, development partners, companies, district councils and communities.

The ILO is assisting the resource mobilisation strategy of the NAP, and ECLT along with Winrock International, continue to play a critical role in providing both technical and financial support for the design and implementation of the NAP and programmes to combat child labour.

Such cooperation is at the heart of the ILO’s Integrated Strategy to promote decent work and tackle child labour in the tobacco sector in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Bringing together Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, and the private sector to promote strong government policy and multi-stakeholder cooperation, provides a sustainable approach to make sure that no child is falling between the gaps back into child labour.

Next Steps

It has been planned to disseminate the NAP II through regional workshops in this year of 2020 which will bring together different actors for concrete actions to move forward. The ECLT Foundation looks forward to working with the Government of Malawi during the implementation stage of the NAP ll.

“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.”

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This article has been written with guidance and support from the Government of Malawi.