Combatting Child Labor through Capacity Development

June 10th, 2022 | Stories


Did you know? Millions of children around the world are engaged in child labor – as many as 160 million according to International Labour Organization estimates.

In recognition of World Day Against Child Labor (June 12) and to shine a spotlight on this issue, we’re highlighting World Education’s work in Nepal to combat child labor. According to recent estimates by the International Labor Organization and Government of Nepal, an estimated 1.1 million children in Nepal are engaged in child labor, equivalent to 15% of the population aged 5-17.

Jina, age 13, was one such child.  Jina lives with her family in the Kathmandu Valley. Her mother works in a carpet factory full-time and earns NPR 600 (~ US $5.13) per day as a carpet weaver, while her father earns daily wages as a mason. Even though her family was having a difficult time financially, Jina was still able to attend school during the day. She was in grade 5. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Nepal’s government instituted a nationwide “lockdown,” which created severe financial challenges for many people who could no longer work. Jina’s parents were among those who lost their jobs and faced economic crisis. They struggled to earn enough to eat and pay for basic necessities. 

As the eldest child, Jina thought it was her responsibility to help her parents manage the economic burden. She quit school and joined her mother working in the carpet factory to support the family. Until recently she worked about 12-14 hours a day. Due to these long hours and the repetitive work, she experienced a number of health problems, including cuts, swollen knuckles, joint pain, and allergic reactions to the wool lint.

Fortunately, a local NGO, Child Development Society (CDS), met Jina while doing research to identify and document child labor. CDS was then able to provide emergency support to Jina and her family, supply her with the materials she needed to continue her studies, and coordinate with local government to ensure she could access education. Now, Jina is back in school and in grade 6. “I feel very lucky to join school again,” she says.

Jina’s story and the support that CDS provided is a result of World Education’s Sakriya project. Funded by the US Department of Labor, Sakriya—which means “active” in Nepali and represents the project’s vision for an active, engaged, and effective civil society—aims to strengthen capacity of civil society in Nepal to address child labor. World Education, in collaboration with three technical partners (Antenna Foundation Nepal, Swantantrata Abhiyan Nepal and Terres des hommes) has partnered with 15 local civil society organizations to improve their ability to identify and document child labor, raise awareness of child labor, and coordinate with local government to implement case management to support children in child labor.

Drawing on expertise and best practices for technical and organizational capacity strengthening from the Center for Capacity Development at JSI and World Education the project supported partner organizations to engage in a participatory and reflective process of self-assessment, action planning, and supported implementation. All 15 NGOs achieved targeted improvements related to five target areas for capacity strengthening: organization management and strategy; understanding of child labor; identification and documentation of child labor; awareness raising; and implementation of case management to address child labor.

In total, the NGOs used a variety of research methods and identified 11,298 children in child labor, primarily in the brick, zari (embroidery), and carpet sectors. For 3,018 children at high risk, NGOs worked with local government to provide case management and emergency support. By mobilizing and strengthening civil society, World Education also helped effect lasting change at the local level. For example, a number of municipalities were motivated and supported to achieve the “Child Labor Free Municipality” designation; other local governments have allocated increased budget amounts to address child labor through case management or awareness raising; and brick factory owners have signed commitments to refrain from using child labor.

Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL -32527-18-75-K.  100 percentage of the total costs of the project or program is financed with USG federal funds, for a total of 2.6 85 million dollars. The project works across three child labor sectors in 45 municipalities and three provinces, with eighteen partners. 

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