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For a brighter future in Malawi: reducing and preventing child labour in agriculture

Among Malawi's rural women, men and youth, a nationwide mass media campaign is creating awareness and fostering debate about the issues surrounding child labour in agriculture.

© FAO
28/04/2016

Globally 98 million boys and girls between 5 and 17 years are identified as child labourers in agriculture. In Malawi, as in other countries, child labour is a pervasive problem, especially in the agriculture sector. In 2015 FAO, with the financial aid from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, supported the efforts of the Government of Malawi to live up to its commitments to reduce child labour practices in agriculture through a nationwide mass media campaign.

The campaign aimed at highlighting the role of child labour in the vicious cycle of poverty and stimulating debate on how to reduce and prevent it. A key aspect involved partnership with the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), an agricultural producer organization that has been sensitive towards child labour prevention over the years. NASFAM committed to increase efforts against child labour in agriculture by producing and broadcasting a dozen radio programmes on national media channels. Radio listeners, most of them from rural communities, were given the opportunity to submit their questions and views on how to reduce children’s involvement in heavy and hazardous tasks and how to get children into school.

In parallel, the Department of Agricultural Extension Services within the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) produced a 15-minute video documentary on child labour in agriculture. Thanks to a communication team of extension workers travelling by van, the documentary was screened in a series of villages in remote areas of the country, where child labour is most rampant. Screening dates were announced in advance through local radio channels, and the tours targeted agricultural sectors such as tea, coffee, fisheries and cattle-herding, among others. As a result, more than 10 000 rural women, men and youth viewed the documentary and debated it afterwards.

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