Over 1,700 Children Withdrawn from Mining Sites in Karamoja


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Moroto and Nakapiripirit Districts, Uganda — Since 2019, a combined effort by various organizations has successfully withdrawn at least 1,723 children from mining areas in the Karamoja sub-region, a region long plagued by high rates of child labour among children aged 7 to 16.

Many of these children come from child-headed families and have been forced into labour to support their households.

The initiative, driven by Save the Children Organization in collaboration with Hivos, Uganda National Teacher’s Union (UNATU), Nascent Research and Development Organization (NRDO), and Environmental Women in Action and Development (EWAD), launched the five-year “Work No Child Business” project in 2019. This project aims to provide alternative education, and skill training opportunities, and promote sustainable livelihoods for children aged 5-18.

Caroline Kharono, the Meal Coordinator for the project in Moroto, reported that children removed from mining sites were initially mentored before being enrolled in formal education and community-based skill programs.

“The project’s main goal is to free children from child labour, ensuring their right to quality education and decent work,” Kharono emphasized. She also highlighted the critical role of the private sector in preventing and addressing child labour.

So far, over 217 youths have enrolled in community-based skill training, with at least 151 completing their programs. These youths have been organized into groups and provided with seed funds of approximately 5 million shillings each to start their enterprises.

To enforce laws against child labour, the project has established Child Protection Committees, including children, teachers, parents, district officials, parasocial workers, and duty bearers.

Despite notable successes, challenges such as insecurity, poverty, hunger, and negative attitudes towards education have impeded the complete removal of children from mining activities.

Many children, having become primary breadwinners for their families, often return to mining sites, creating a cyclical challenge. The project is working with district officials to develop sustainable solutions to prevent this recurrence.

Kevin Aleper, a child previously involved in mining, shared her experience of carrying stones for minimal pay, which barely covered basic needs. Now, after receiving training in tailoring, she can support her family more sustainably.

Similarly, Emmanuel Elungat, who transitioned from mining to carpentry, noted significant improvements in his life and aspirations to become an engineer.

John Okiria, another youth withdrawn from mining, urged local leaders and partners to join forces in combating child labour. He recounted the severe hardships faced in the mining areas and expressed gratitude for the opportunities provided by the project.

William Lochodo, the Moroto District Senior Probation and Welfare Officer, commended the project’s efforts. “The project has made significant strides in areas where district authorities previously struggled due to inadequate resources,” he noted. Lochodo called for more support to extend the project’s reach, particularly to areas not yet covered.

Sisto Lokiru, vice chairperson of the Child Protection Committee at the Kosiroi mining area, mentioned ongoing community sensitization efforts leading to positive changes. With the support of companies like Tororo Cement, which has provided scholastic materials, more children are staying in school.

Training by Save the Children on child protection has empowered communities with the knowledge to fight child labour and understand relevant laws.

Lokiru also called for additional sponsorships to enable children withdrawn from mining to pursue further education beyond the primary level, ensuring they have opportunities for a better future.

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