ILO launches socio-professional reintegration activities for young people exposed to child labour in Mali

This action programme aims to contribute to the elimination of child labour and forced labour in the cotton, textile and clothing value chain in Mali, in the communes of Kignan, Kourouma, Kléla (circle of Sikasso, region of Sikasso) and the communes of Bla, Touna, Diéna (circle of Bla, region of Ségou) through the vocational training and socio-economic integration of 300 children

Article | 16 June 2021
The specific objective is to support 300 children aged 15 to 17, 50% of whom are girls, victims or at risk, with a view to their socio-professional reintegration in decent and healthy conditions. At the same time, the children's parents/guardians will also be supported by the AGRs.

In the regions selected for these interventions, notably the regions of Sikasso and Ségou in the south of Mali, 66% of boys and 35% of girls aged between 15 and 17 are engaged in cotton-growing activities.

Here, most children are engaged in the cotton sector, which is the main cash crop, mainly for export. The agricultural activities most commonly carried out by children include weeding, sowing, ploughing, harvesting, looking after animals, and spreading fertiliser and pesticides.

These activities are known to be particularly "strenuous" and in some cases dangerous.

By compromising their health, well-being and education as well as their chances for better socio-professional integration, child labour in the cotton value chain constitutes an obstacle to the promotion of children's rights.

This project is welcome in our cotton growing area because more than three million people live from cotton growing, of which thousands of children are exploited, when they should be the beneficiaries. This project can help us to alleviate this problem in our communities,'' says Adama Diarra, Mayor of the commune of Kourouma.

Finally, I invite all the participants to invest fully in the implementation of this project. I also invite the elected officials to include this project in their social, economic and cultural development plans (PDSEC)," continued Diarra.

Indeed, the two International Labour Office projects, ''Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains'' Accel Africa and CLEAR Cotton aim to take effective action to stop child and forced labour in cotton-producing districts and communities and in clothing/textile factories.

The ultimate goal of vocational skills training is to reintegrate young people into safe and decent employment.

The elimination of child labour is achieved through the identification, removal and effective prevention of child labour through vocational training, in training centres and with approved apprenticeship masters.

The final beneficiaries of the Action are the children in a situation of child labour or at risk of child labour in the two circles (Sikasso, Bla) of intervention, their parents, tutors, training centres, apprenticeship masters or master craftsmen and the cotton community.

I plead for an appropriation of the project by the local leaders and the communities. I welcome the appeal of the Mayor of Kourouma who has called on his peers in the intervention communities to take greater ownership of the project and to include child labour in the PDSEC,'' says Hamidou Cisse, National Coordinator of the ILO child labour project.