The International Labor Organization (ILO) commemorated “World Day Against Child Labor” on June 12, 2013, releasing a new report about the alarming situation many vulnerable children face. The organization urged concerted and joint action at national and international levels to eliminate child domestic labour.
Locally, the day was also observed in Wolayita Sodo in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR), where many conditions are ripe for children to be exploited through forced labor and trafficking.
According to the Central Statistics Agency (CSA) 2012 Demographic and Health Survey, 27 Pct of Ethiopian children between five and 14 are being forced to work, many in dangerous conditions. They perform menial and repetitive tasks in farming and domestic service in both rural and urban areas.
In Ethiopia poverty, lack of access to education, divorce, conflict, drought, resettlement being orphaned and rapid urbanization are major reasons that children are forced into unhealthy working conditions. There is also a strong cultural belief, among many, that kids should work at an early age, to learn skills and help the family survive.
The government is working to create public awareness to alleviate the problem. According to Girma Shelime, public relations and communication director of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, they are working with families and community leaders to improve the lives of children.
“Since poverty is the main source of the problem, the government is working to raise household income,” he added.
Recently the government established a National Plan of Action Against Child Labor. It will combine resources from the Ministries of Women, Children and Youth Afrairs (MoWCYA), Education (MoE), Culture and Tourism (MCT) and non profits like Save the Children.
The Director of Public Relations at MoWCYA, Ato Abiy Ephrem, told EBR that the government is focusing on prevention in its fight against child labor. He says they are making a coordinated effort to create awareness by focusing on the stakeholders like women, youth and the community at large to protect the rights and wellbeing of children.