Aggrey David Kibenge, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MGLSD), engaged in discussions with a delegation from the International Labour Organization’s ACCEL project. Their meeting centered on the forthcoming second phase of the initiative, focusing on eradicating child labor within African supply chains.
The team, led by Mr. Minoru Ogasawara, the Chief Technical Advisor of ILO ACCEL Africa, commended Uganda’s commitment to gathering regular data on child labor, notably during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Acknowledging Uganda’s provision of statistics both pre- and post-pandemic, Mr. Ogasawara highlighted the rarity of such reporting among other nations due to concerns about trade implications and international scrutiny.
Expressing appreciation for Uganda’s efforts, Mr. Ogasawara emphasized the pivotal role of social protection in addressing the root causes of child labor. He underscored the European Union’s readiness to support Uganda’s initiatives and anticipated collaborative efforts with the social protection team.
Discussing the challenge of defining child labor, Mr. Ogasawara stressed the importance of distinguishing between hazardous and suitable light work for children. He expressed optimism about future collaboration and its potential to yield positive outcomes in the fight against child labor.
Kibenge, in gratitude for ILO’s support, acknowledged the strides made under the ACCEL project. He underscored the urgency to continue efforts in addressing the persistently high rate of child labor, as revealed by the National Labour Force Survey conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBoS).
Highlighting challenges faced by sectors affected by child labor, Kibenge reiterated the collective responsibility of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to eliminate child labor and seek sustainable solutions. He particularly emphasized the complexities in removing children from urban centers, revealing plans for a stakeholders’ meeting on November 23, 2023, aimed at addressing the issue of street children comprehensively.
He emphasized the significance of bolstering the social protection system to dissuade parents from allowing their children to engage in labor. Mr. Kibenge pledged the Ministry’s active pursuit of interventions to bridge gaps in eliminating child labor.
Providing insight into the prevalence of child labor in specific sectors, Mr. Odongo Francis, the Commissioner of Occupational Safety and Health, stressed the need for awareness among casual workers in identifying and preventing such situations.
Jacqueline Banya, the ILO/National Project Coordinator, expanded on ACCEL Phase II’s mandate, now encompassing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Social Protection (SP). She proposed establishing a National Steering Committee targeting child labor in supply chains, focusing on key sectors such as coffee and tea.
The second phase of the ACCEL project in Uganda concentrates on the tea and coffee supply chains, aiming to extend coverage to more districts and partners. The project aims to strengthen the child labor unit within the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, building upon the groundwork laid during the initial phase.