Mr. Minoru Ogasawara from ILO(third right), Permanent Secretary Aggrey Kibenge (third left) and other officials after the meeting in Kampala on Thursday
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), Mr. Aggrey David Kibenge has met with a delegation from the International Labour Organization’s ACCEL project, during which they discussed the upcoming second phase of the initiative aimed at eradicating child labour in supply chains across Africa.
The team from ILO ACCEL Africa, led by the Chief Technical Advisor Mr. Minoru Ogasawara, expressed their satisfaction with the progress made during the first phase and commended Uganda for its commitment to collecting regular data on child labour, even in the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that when Covid-19 hit the World, Uganda provided statistics that revealed the status of child labour before and after the pandemic.
“Most countries did not produce these statistics on child labour because of implications on trade and scrutiny from the international community.” He said.
Mr. Ogasawara congratulated Uganda on its efforts and emphasized the importance of social protection in addressing the root causes of child labour. He highlighted the European Union’s eagerness to support Uganda in its endeavors and looked forward to collaborating with the social protection team.
Addressing the issue of the misunderstanding of child labour definitions, Mr. Ogasawara stressed the need to differentiate between hazardous work and light work suitable for children. He expressed optimism about future collaboration and the potential for positive outcomes in the fight against child labour.
On his part, Mr. Kibenge expressed gratitude for the support extended by the ILO. He acknowledged the progress made under the ACCEL project and emphasized the need for continued efforts in addressing the high rate of child labour as revealed by the National Labour Force Survey. The study done by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBoS) revealed that there is still high prevalence of child labour in the Country.
Mr. Kibenge outlined the challenges faced by various sectors affected by child labour and reiterated the responsibility of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to eliminate child labour and find sustainable solutions. He specifically pointed out the challenges encountered in removing children from the streets of the urban centers around the Country. He revealed that whenever the children are removed from the streets and resettled back in the communities where they came from, they easily return after a short while. In order to find a sustainable solution to the persistent problem of street children, he said he had called a meeting of key stakeholders on the 23rd November, 2023.
He emphasized the importance of strengthening the social protection system to discourage parents from allowing their children to engage in child labour. He further pledged that the Ministry was actively identifying and embracing interventions that address the existing gaps in eliminating child labour.
The Commissioner of Occupational Safety and Health, Mr. Odongo Francis, provided insight into the prevalence of child labour in small-scale mines, construction sites, and informal sectors like babysitting and cooking in markets. He highlighted the need for awareness among casual workers about identifying and preventing child labour situations.
ILO/National Project Coordinator, Jacqueline Banya, expanded on the mandate of ACCEL Phase II, which now includes Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Social Protection (SP). She proposed the creation of a specific National Steering Committee to address child labour in supply chains, focusing on key sectors such as coffee and tea.
Under the second phase of the ACCEL project, Uganda’s primary focus remains on the tea and coffee supply chains, building on the foundations laid during the first phase. The project aims to further expand coverage by involving more districts and partners, while also strengthening the child labour unit within the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Also in attendance were Mr. Zephaniah Ogen, a Social Protection Officer and Amu Eliz, the Senior Labour Officer at the Ministry.