Counterpart, USDOL launch new program to combat child labor in Burkina Faso

November 19, 2013

Arlington, VA ─ Counterpart International announces the official launch of a new program in Burkina Faso designed to combat and reduce the overall number of children engaged in child labor in the gold mining and cotton industries in three key regions.

The four year, $5 million program funded by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of International Affairs will directly benefit more than 10,000 youth working in the artisanal gold mining or conventional cotton fields and another 1,000 households of children withdrawn or at risk from child labor.

The project focuses its efforts in the regions of Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades and Hauts-Bassins, with the possibility of future expansion in additional regions, countries and industries.

Key elements of the program include raising awareness of the problem among families and employers, investing in social protection mechanisms for children and strengthening the country framework’s monitoring system that tracks child labor.

“Child laborers in Burkina Faso are typically kept at work by force, made to work up to 18-hour days, seven days a week. Through our work with partners, we hope to strengthen the country framework’s monitoring system that tracks child labor and engage community organization in the process,” Boubacar Sow, Project Director said. “This is crucial in effectively addressing the child labor practices in the cotton and gold mining industries and ensuring sustainability of reducing the number of children engaged in child labor.”

Counterpart will work in partnership with Terre des Hommes, a well-respected Swiss nongovernmental organization that has been active in Burkina Faso since 1986, to address the key drivers of child labor.

The program will work with Burkina Faso’s government, private sector and primary cotton union among other partners. In its first year, the project will implement activities with the governmental authorities, organizing regional workshops in identified zones and completing an analysis of the situation.

Burkina Faso is one of the largest producers of cotton in Africa – almost 40 percent of children aged 5 to 17 are estimated to be in the labor force, many where forced labor is present.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 out of 187 on the United Nations Development Program’s 2011 Human Development Index. A 2012 U.S. Labor Department report names Burkina Faso’s gold mining and cotton industries as sectors of concern.


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