The International Labour Organization (ILO) in a joint initaitive with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) is committed to formulating a workable action plan against child labour in agriculture through a Comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (CMEP).
Agatha Kolawole, project director of the Action against Child Labor in Agriculture in West Africa (ACLAWA) disclosed this at the ongoing three-day ILO Action against Child Labour in Agriculture in West Africa (ACLAWA) Comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (CMEP) Development workshop, holding in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
BusinessDay reports that the participants were drawn from labour unions, market women, farmers, security agencies, rural communities, public service, education sector amongst others.
Kolawole also vowed that ILO would support the government of Ondo state in combating child labour in agriculture through proper implementation of the CMEP.
According to her, the focus of the ACLAWA project in Ondo State, a major cocoa producer in Nigeria, is to eliminate child labor in cocoa farming. Despite challenges like limited and expensive labour options, the project envisions progress in the cocoa sector without jeopardizing the well-being of children.
She said; “I would like to express sincere appreciation for the robust collaboration between the ILO and the Ondo State Steering Committee on Child Labour. This partnership has been pivotal, leading to significant achievements as seen in previous projects like ACCEL Africa. The project achieved giant strides!
“West Africa faces a significant challenge, with 72.1 million African children involved in child labor, including hazardous work, and nearly 23 per cent of West African children estimated to be in child labor, predominantly in rural areas and agriculture.
“While progress is evident, much work remains to eradicate child labor in West African agriculture. Addressing root causes like poverty, inadequate access to quality education, and the need for social protection and decent work opportunities for adults is crucial. Our collective commitment to ensuring every child’s rights to education, health, protection, and participation is paramount.
“While ensuring that the National Action plan is implemented, through the State Action Plan, as stated earlier, adequate social protection mechanisms and programs specifically targeted at vulnerable households at risks of child labour need to be put in place, especially in communities where workers of the lowest tiers reside, thereby reducing poverty for the parents/caregivers of these children and providing a safety net for the children themselves. As we all know that GALAB is working towards extending this social register to the vulnerable, ACLAWA will strive to support the access to social benefits.
“During this workshop, we will be validating the comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan (CMEP) for the ACLAWA project. You will recall that in September 2023 you provided inputs into the development of the CMEP, we are here to present the document you developed for your validation before we commence implementation. This CMEP will guide the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the ACLAWA project in Ondo state. I invite you to provide valuable and expert input into the document before its validation tomorrow. We, the ACLAWA project team, are excited to receive your final input and proceed to begin to deliver results for children and promote decent work in Ondo State.”
In her welcome address, Olanike Mogboruko, controller, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, thanked the ILO team for their efforts so far towards the elimination of child labour in Ondo state.
According to her, over the years, the fight towards the elimination of child labour in Ondo State has been intense. Stakeholders have put in their best foot to ensure that child labour will be reduced to the barest minimum, if not totally eradicated.
Mogboruko said; “Notwithstanding, I urge stakeholders to put in more effort and save our children from further harm because they are our future. Ondo state has been a great beneficiary of the good works of the International Labour Organization. The previous projects like ACCEL 1 have immensely helped families and put smiles on faces by sending children back to school and empowering adult beneficiaries. It has indeed been a great stride and we hope to have more of these projects in the state.
“The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is ready, as always, to collaborate with all stakeholders to work towards the elimination of child labour in Ondo state.”
While the Ondo State Coordinator, National Social Safety Net Project, Olaoluwa Bankole, said the present administration of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa is committed to work towards the elimination of child labour in the state.
Bankole, who spoke on behalf of the state government, therefore said that whatever is required on the part of the government for the success of the project would be adequately attended to.
“I appreciate all the development partners that have been partnering with the State Government for the purpose of moving our State forward. The job of creating an egalitarian society cannot be left for the government alone, it belongs to all of us, we all have a role to play, both in the government and non-government actors.
“I believe with joint efforts, sincerity of purpose, we are going to deliver the goods to the society. Because, once the society is at peace, we will all be after peace. I beseech all the participants that are here today to contribute meaningfully to what we want to do now and it is important that this type of event take place before the commencement of the project so that all the stakeholders can be on the same page as far as implementation is concerned,” he said.