By Alice Lubwama
Civil society organizations advocating for the protection of children rights in Uganda are worried that the country may not be in a position to achieve its commitment to eliminate all forms of child labor by 2025 due to increasing cases of child labor during the period of COVID 19.
The executive director of Somero Uganda Geoffrey Nsubuga Simbwa says that they have realized that more children are being engaged in child labor including commercial sex since parents are now looking at their children as means of survival, especially in Slum areas and border districts.
He says that according to the research they have conducted in areas they are working in, such as Kampala, Busia, Bugiri, Tororo, and Zombo, there has been a registered increase in cases of child labor by 38.2 %.
“Cases of parents taking their children to men earn food or money have increased, this is evident indifferent slums like Katanga , and Kisenyi in Kampala and border areas like Zombo, were coffee growing has been a main source of survival.”
Simbwa further noted that children have also become moving markets, during the lock down period, selling a variety of items door to door.
He added that some of the parents have been held by law keepers because of breaking curfew rules leaving the children at home by themselves.
According to this particular research, Kampala has been one of the most affected district during the lock down.
Simbwa said that the covid19 pandemic has deterred them from creating the awareness against child labor, because all helpful NGOs were not among the essential workers.
Nsubuga said that the services there were giving the communities were crippled since they couldn’t move yet the people needed to be reminded over and again.
He now appeals to Government to look into the live hoods of different families and fully support the district labor officers so that they are in a position to support the children where ever there are.
Although the Government approved a National Action Plan on Child Labor in February 2019, children in Uganda still engage in the worst forms of child labor such as commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also perform dangerous tasks such as gold mining.
Like Somero Uganda ,other organizations like Plan International, Terre des Hommes a Netherlands based international NGO and seven other local partners are equally facing serious setback in the final implementation stage of a five year Girls Advocacy Alliance program in Uganda following a COVID-19 lock-down.
Despite the challenges envisaged in the fight against COVID-19 internationally, Plan International Uganda and Terre des Hommes anticipate to raise awareness on the rights of girls and young women in Uganda, engage key actors towards the protection of girls and young women from Gender based violence and economic exclusion.