Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – 28 November 2017 – Since January 2005, Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco (ECLT) Foundation together with its partner, the Alliance for the Protection of Children’s Rights (APCR), has reached over 40,000 people through five projects in the Nookat and Alabuka Districts of southwestern Kyrgyzstan to address child labour in rural communities where tobacco is grown.
The projects focused on withdrawing children from working in the fields, expanding their access to vocational training, supporting families with microloans and helping them form or join existing cooperatives so parents can hire more adult labour or agricultural machinery and reduce their need for child labour. ECLT’s involvement in the elimination of child labour in Kyrgyzstan first started in 2003, when the Agricultural Workers Union reported the widespread use of child labour in agriculture, including in tobacco growing.
Since 2013, and through ECLT’s IMPACT Project and partnerships:
- 10,370 children were withdrawn from labour and enrolled in school;
- 1,200 children benefited from after-school programmes;
- 1,900 teenagers graduated from vocational training;
- 18,200 people were trained on child labour issues;
- 4,900 parents benefited from microloans; and
- $2.5 millionUSD was invested to fight child labour since 2005.
For the past two years, ECLT has funded the IMPACT Project’s “Sustainability Phase” to support farmers during their transition from tobacco, resulting from the 2015 departure of several major tobacco companies, which ceased their operations in the country due to the global market’s low demand for the duibek leaf variety grown in Kyrgyzstan. Notably, tobacco production has steadily decreased in the country over the past several years, compared to the volumes produced during Soviet times.
The end of the Sustainability Phase effectively concludes ECLT’s presence in Kyrgyzstan. To mark its 13 years of efforts to end child labour, a formal Closure Ceremony was organised in Bishkek on 28 November 2017 with project partners and stakeholders, including representatives from the national and local government, trade unions and beneficiaries. The event also included the presentation of the independent study results, which assessed ECLT’s approach and impact between 2005 and 2017. The study revealed a reduction in child labour in tobacco growing, an improvement in farmers’ purchasing power thanks to microcredits and a better understanding of children’s rights and the dangers of child labour among children and their communities.
During the ceremony, the ECLT Foundation officially handed over the ownership of the microloan fund, worth a total of $540,000USD, to the APCR. ECLT’s Programme Manager, Karima Jambulatova, shared: “Despite closing our activities in Kyrgyzstan, by leaving the microloan fund with the Alliance for the Protection of Children’s Rights, we rest assured that it will continue benefitting current and former tobacco farmers’ households, improving their access to microfinance and ensuring that children are not used for labour.”
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