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Combating child labour in tea value chain: Lessons from Kenya, Malawi, Uganda

By Twink Jones Gadama

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-In today’s global economy, the issue of child labour continues to be a pressing concern, particularly in industries including tea production.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), through the ACCEL Africa project, has been spearheading efforts to combat child labour in the tea value chain in countries like Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.

A recent study visit titled “Tea-Triangular: Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and the Netherlands Knowledge Sharing to Combat Child Labour in the Tea Value Chain” brought together key stakeholders to discuss challenges, share experiences, and develop strategies to tackle this critical issue.

The Knowledge Sharing Workshop, held at the Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel on February 22, 2024, was a platform for policymakers, industry representatives, and civil society organizations to come together and brainstorm solutions to the pervasive problem of child labour in the tea sector.

The workshop was inaugurated by Wezzie Kaira, principal secretary in the Ministry of Labour, who highlighted the common challenges faced by Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda in their fight against child labour.

“We must put in much effort to combat child labour and protect the rights of our most vulnerable population,” stated Minoru Ogasawara, Chief Technical Advisor for the International Labour Organization. Ogasawara emphasized the importance of collaboration between countries and the need for a coordinated approach to address the root causes of child labour in the tea value chain.

Christine Ohene represented Kenya at the workshop, while Bursige Nicholas represented Uganda. Both countries have been grappling with high cases of child labour, particularly in tea and coffee plantations.

Uganda has set a target to completely eliminate child labour by 2030, while Kenya aims to eradicate this vice by 2025. Malawi, on the other hand, has set a long-term vision to eliminate child labour by 2063.

The participants at the workshop engaged in discussions around effective policy measures, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, and sustainable practices to eliminate child labour in the tea value chain.

They also explored the role of certification programs, supply chain transparency, and market incentives in promoting responsible sourcing practices and ensuring that products are free from child labour.

One of the key takeaways from the workshop was the need for greater collaboration between government, industry, civil society, and international organizations to address the complex issue of child labour.

Participants stressed the importance of education, social protection programs, and community empowerment initiatives in preventing children from being forced into exploitative labour practices.

The workshop also highlighted the role of consumer awareness and ethical consumerism in driving change within the tea industry.

Minoru Ogasawara announced that western countries would soon stop buying products that are believed to have been produced with child labour.

This shift in demand is expected to incentivize companies to implement robust child labour monitoring and remediation systems throughout their supply chains.

As the fight against child labour in the tea value chain continues, it is clear that a multi-stakeholder approach is essential to achieving meaningful and lasting impact.

The dedication and commitment of countries like Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda to eradicate child labour demonstrate a shared vision for a more just and sustainable future for all children.

The Knowledge Sharing Workshop served as a crucial platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and solidarity in the global effort to combat child labour in the tea sector.

With concerted efforts and collective action, we can create a world where children are protected, empowered, and able to fulfill their potential without the threat of exploitation.

Maravi Post Reporter
Maravi Post Reporter
Op-Ed Columnists, Opinion contributors and one submissions are posted under this Author. In our By-lines we still give Credit to the right Author. However we stand by all reports posted by Maravi Post Reporter.
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