Uganda Co-operative Alliance (UCA) Ltd in partnership with International Labor Organization (ILO) have advanced a campaign aiming at eliminating child labor in the co-operative space and the coffee value chain.
The remarks were made during a 3-day workshop held on 12th to 14th December 2022 at Reliance View hotel, Mbale City, aiming at eliminating child labor in the coffee value chain under the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child (ACCEL) project funded by ILO.
This workshop targeted co-operatives, their service providers and other farmer-based organizations among other partners.
According to UCA, the training is aims at skilling selected Trainers who are expected to enhance their understanding of child labor, the legal framework of child labor, why child labor should be eliminated and how co-operatives can help in the elimination of child labor in their respective communities.
Mr. Patrick Sserubula the UCA Project Coordinator tasked participants to spread the message down to the coffee farming co-operatives and neighboring groups so as to eliminate the vice.
“Since you were nominated have been trained spread the message across to your members (members of co-operatives) and the leaders who have not participated in this training” he said
He urged trainers to train their members to send school going children to school and distance themselves from child labor.
“It is dangerous for school going children to be exposed to hazardous labor, we are not against children working with their parents our focus is hard labor” he said.
In the same vein, Mrs. Wabomba Sidrah the Senior Labor Officer attached to Mbale district decried the vice adding that it is prominent in rural areas of Elgon.
“Here school age going children are always engaged in activities that have resulted into the rampant cases of child labor in the communities” she said.
The action-packed sessions saw participants shared live experiences from their communities about child labor revelations.
As participants testified to the raise of child labor across the coffee value chain right from the production to marketing in the region.
Mr. Hasan Buyi a participant said that the vice has been treated as normal for so long
“The rate at which children are sent to coffee farms and factories is very high in my community” Said. Adding “There should be more trainings on the same to be able to eliminate the vice” he added
Mr. Werishe Joseph the Coordinator of Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Busano Sub-country advised parents to stop sending children to carry heavy bags of coffee on top of long hours without food.
“It is negligence to send children to pick coffee during school time, some of them are not yet strong enough to do the work” Werishe said.
In the same vein Mrs. Irene Simiyu the Mbale District Commercial Officer attributed the increasing trend to lack of awareness to the communities.
He pledged to use the government airtime provided on the local radio stations to spread child labor elimination messages to the public.
“We should undertake a campaign of community mobilization and sensitization against the vice of using underage children for gainful employment” said Simiyu.
She advised the participating co-operatives to work within the legal framework and guidelines while reaching out to their members.
This assignment aligns its objectives and activities to UCA’s Strategic Plan 2022-25 Pillar 5 that seeks to engage women and youth in cooperative more than before but also Pillar 1 touching issues of strengthening governance in the coffee co-operatives.