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Pact, DRC_stopping child labour in mining

Pact, DRC

Our partnership with Pact aims to reduce child labour in mining

Our partnership with Pact aims to reduce child labour in mining by strengthening local child protection institutions, enhancing economic opportunities for adult family members within and outside the mining sector, and providing vocational opportunities to adolescents dependent on mining income.

(Programme concluded and no longer supported by the Trafigura Foundation)

The use of child labour in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) mining industry is an acute problem that is too frequently ignored by the international community. Children are being pressed into both low-risk support work in the mines, as well as more dangerous mineral processing labour. Considered a Worst Form of Child Labor, this type of exploitation carries serious physical, mental and psychological risks for the children involved.

Since 2015, Pact has run an initiative called Watoto inje ya Mungoti (WIM), or “Children out of Mining”, in the Ex-Katanga region of the DRC. The programme targets the root causes of the complex issue of child labour in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) and raises awareness among community stakeholders – including parents, government, educators, clergy, and industry – about children’s rights and the risks of child labour in mining.

Now, enabled by the support of the Trafigura Foundation, Pact will expand the WIM programme by rolling it out to major mining areas in Malemba-Nkulu territory and in Kolwezi. A three-year implementation plan, informed by learnings taken from the programme’s initial phase, provide alternative options for children currently dependent on mining income and facilitate the adoption of child-positive social and regulatory mechanisms.

In Malemba-Nkulu, local communities are deeply involved in ASM in the tin, tungsten and tantalum mineral supply chain. Low levels of awareness about the problematic dimension of child labour and little local institutional capacity to address the problem motivated Pact to implement a structured action plan targeting five objectives:

  • Raising community awareness about children’s rights through the creation of local committees encompassing community leaders, schools, clergy, government and civil society’s associations. These committees nominate outreach groups of volunteers that conduct direct consultations with children and families in targeted mines.
  • Strengthening local actors and institutions to address child labour and promote alternative livelihoods for local communities. After having mapped and assessed the capacity of local associations, Pact develops an institutional strengthening plan for the main organisations.
  • Creating alternative livelihoods for adolescent and children who depend on mining income through a vocational education programme, placement in apprenticeships and mentoring.
  • Training economically vulnerable ASM workers and their families through the “WORTH for Miners program” which provides literacy, numeracy, savings and financial skills training to increase families' income.
  • Engaging upstream suppliers and mining industry’s stakeholders to promote sustainable and fair practices in their supply chains. Specific training helps industry’s representatives to design, adopt and implement child-positive policies and procedures.

In Kolwezi, Pact is implementing two axes of its integrated approached proposed in Malemba-Nkulu. The first one is the vocational training and placement in apprenticeships for young adolescents dependent on mining income. The second one is the promotion of safer livelihood opportunities by offering “WORTH program” to adult miners and their family members to help them develop the financial means and skills necessary to open micro-enterprises or find alternative employments.

Pact’s intervention can be transformative for its young apprentices. At the age of 15, Madeline stopped going to school as she wasn’t able to pay her fees. Her only source of revenue was to sell doughnuts at the mine. With Pact’s support, Madeline took part in a tailoring apprenticeship programme that lasted 6 months and equipped her with the knowledge to run her own business. She now goes to school in the morning and sews for her clients in the afternoon: “I intend to obtain my diploma and maybe even go to university, who knows? It is Pact that made me who I am today.”

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