This piece is written by Karima Jambulatova & Nicholas McCoy.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – On May 12th-14th 2015, the Government of Tanzania, under the leadership of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, convened a national conference titled “Pathways to Sustainability: Together We Can Eradicate Child Labour in Agriculture”, as a key step in advancing strategies and building collaborations needed to address and eliminate the root causes of child labour in agriculture in Tanzania.
With the support of the ECLT Foundation and its PROSPER project implementing partner Winrock International, and in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), this high-level event gathered over 120 participants and stakeholders representing key Ministries, national, and district level officials; worker and employer organizations from Tanzania mainland and from Zanzibar; civil society; industry; key agricultural sub-sectoral representatives from the tobacco, sisal, coffee, tea, clove and fishery industries; along with involved international stakeholders from Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Switzerland and the US Department of Labour; together with individual family members and children from target districts, to take part in this national forum for discussion on child labour issues.
Government Commitment at the Highest Level
On behalf of the Prime Minister of Tanzania, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Honourable Gaudencia Kabaka, MP, opened the conference by reiterating her government’s commitment to the elimination of child labour, and expressing strong support for building upon key partnerships and reinforcement of interdisciplinary approaches among government, trade unions and worker organizations, employers and NGOs in the fight against chid labour.
The conference itself focused on three thematic pillars, which were run in parallel sessions:
- Decent work for youth based on occupational safety and health practices
- Education and social protection for all children under 18
- Strengthening of referral systems and enforcement through decentralization
Under the three pillars, the conference resulted in a commitment to action. Among the key calls stemming from the conference outcome document are:
- For the Government of Tanzania to build greater collaboration and partnership with key stakeholders including international organizations, social partners and farmer cooperatives; and to strengthen labour administration and inspection to adequately address child labour;
- For Worker, Employer Organizations and Cooperatives to comply with the Minimum Wage order and to encourage the use of collective bargaining agreements to secure a living wage to workers and farmers in a view to reduce child labour;
- For the private sector to provide training to employee and farmers on child labour laws an to monitor and act on their supply chains in case of child labour incidence.
The Outcome Document will serve to guide the Ministry of Labour and other leading organizations to review the National Action Plan and reaffirm government leadership in achieving agricultural productivity without child labour and actions to build thriving rural communities.
This multi-stakeholder conference was the fruit of months of close preparation through a tripartite approach on the part of the Tanzanian government, the private sector, trade unions, the ILO, ECLT Foundation and Winrock International working together to plan and carry out a timely and important group of decision-makers to address and commit to concrete measures to eliminate child labour in agriculture in multi-agricultural sub-sectors.
In his closing remarks, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Eric Shitindi, noted that “a key message that emerged from the conference is about sustainability”, emphasizing that “to have sustainability and ownership, child rights issues should be mainstreamed in our policies, plans, and programmes”. He went on further to state that “we need each other on this endeavor and our joint efforts are key to these outcomes”. Mr Shitindi concluded by stating, “let me assure you, that the Government [of Tanzania] is committed and will fully implement its part of the agreed upon outcomes and recommendations of the conference”.
Moving forward, the PROSPER Project’s National Advisory Committee, with its respective national representation and under the current leadership and chairmanship of the Labour Commissioner, played a key role in the lead up to the conference, delineating its objectives, and providing the guidance needed to make this multi-stakeholder event a success. The NAC will continue to play a key role in proving coordination mechanisms in follow-up to the conference until PROSPER’s project completion in December 2015.
Karima Jambulatova is Project Manager at the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation. The Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation strengthens communities, improves policies, and advances research so that tobacco-growing communities can benefit from agricultural farming while ensuring that their children are healthy, educated, safe from exploitation, and encouraged to reach their full potential.