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Hunger Pushes Children In Karamoja To Mining

A girl grinding sand mix with Gold at Nakabaat mining site in Rupa sub county.

The hunger crisis in Karamoja is pushing children to work in mines to support their families.

The majority of children in Karamoja are working all sorts of jobs such as charcoal burning, collecting firewood for sale, and street vending.

The children heading families say that the inability to provide adequate food to feed the family forced them to drop out of school to find other alternatives for survival.

Christine Nachap, a 14-year-old girl who is looking after three siblings says since both parents died, their relatives abandoned them and they have been struggling with life feeding on local brew residues as food.

Nachap explains that she usually treks to Moroto town which is about 8 kilometers to beg for the residues that she brings home for other siblings to feed.

Hellen Nate, a 13- year-old girl, says her parents were killed by warriors and she is single-handedly taking care of the other three children.

Nate says that he was forced to drop out of school this year in primary three because there was no one to support them. she added that their lives have been relying on charcoal burning and selling firewood for survival.

Emmanuel Lokot, a 15-year-old in P.4 class in Musas Primary School says that he struggles to balance school and looking after his siblings.

Lokot says that every Friday he returns home early so that he goes to the quarrying site to break the stones that he sells to buy food for the family. He says the only source of income to support their livelihood is stone quarrying which also exposes his life to danger.

Teddy Adong, the LCI Chairperson Ckekolias Village in Loputuk Sub County says most of the families are being headed by the children because they either lost parents or the parent are too vulnerable to provide basic needs.

Adong noted that food security is closely linked to child labour because when parents struggle to provide food for the family, they often feel there is no choice but to send their children to the mining sites.

Joyce Mary Agwang, a teacher at Kodonyo Primary School in Moroto district noted that one of the factors contributing to child labor is hunger and insecurity, which forces children to prioritize survival for basic needs such as food over school.

Agwang urged the government and other development partners to emphasize feeding children at school because it is the only way of luring children to stay in school.

She said many children in Karamoja are in dire need of humanitarian assistance to survive and save them from hazardous income-generating activities.

Benjamin Nangiro, the project coordinator at Work No Child business observed that poverty levels have increased with most families unable to take their children to school.

Nangiro said that children most especially at the quarrying site are at risk of contracting diseases and even death due to accidents.

Nangiro however revealed that they are trying their best to sensitize the community to withdraw children from the mines and take them to school.

He says they are also empowering community members in economic income-generating activities so that they can make their own money when the children are at school.

URN

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