Jinja District Urged To Pass Ordinance On Child Labour

3352 Views Jinja, Uganda

In short
A report by ANPPCAN indicates that 7.4% of the children between the ages of 6 and 16 years are engaged in sugarcane growing and have dropped out of school.

Jinja district Local government has been tasked to pass an ordinance against child labour in sugarcane growing areas.
 
Busedde, Buyengo, Butagaya and Budondo sub counties are the most affected areas in Jinja with more than 60% of underage girls and boys engaging in sugarcane cutting, colleting and loading onto vehicles to transport them to the factory.

Jinja district is among the leading sugarcane growers in the country and statistics show that majority of the sugarcane growing households employ children.

According to findings by The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect [ANPPCAN], 80% of households growing sugarcane in Jinja employ children.

The findings also show that currently 7.4% of the children between the ages of 6 and 16 years are engaged in sugarcane growing and have dropped out of school.

Forty-five percent of the children aged 10 and 14 years are engaged in sugarcane growing and attending school at the same time. This accounts for the high levels of school absenteeism and dropout in sugarcane growing areas in Jinja district.
 
Meddy Mbetyo, a district councilor who is also a member of the Community Development Committee, says the draft ordinance has not been passed since 2009. He says this would help guide lower local governments on how to deal with families neglecting children to go for child labour.
 
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Jimmy Obbo, the Coordinator ANPPCAN Jinja, says the bylaw should be passed immediately to save the children who are being condemned by poor parents to work in sugarcane plantations at a tender age.
 
Alex Dibya, Jinja district Community Development Officer, says the district is working together with other partners to put in place an ordinance. He says it puts the district in a difficult position with lower local governments which cannot make by–laws to fight child labour.
 
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Jinja district Education Inspector Florence Kafuko says absence of an ordinance has made parents reluctant about sending children to school. The current strike by teachers over poor pay has also worsened the situation as most pupils are seen loading sugarcane onto lorries in rural parts of Jinja.
 
In 2011, a report by ANPPCAN showed that the rate of child exploitation in Jinja had reached alarming proportions.
 
At least 259 children of 358 interviewed were found to be involved in child labour, with another 99 ready to join employment.