By Lydia Gichuki
Expanding social protection to adequately respond to the COVID-19 crisis could reduce the number of children in child labour by 15.1 million between 2020 and 2022 according to International Labour Organization.
According to COVID-19 and child labour: A time of crisis, a time to act, report child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk.
It is estimated that without mitigation strategies, the number of children in child labour could rise by 8.9 million worldwide by the end of 2022, due to higher poverty and increased vulnerability.
Social protections aims at reducing family poverty risks and vulnerability by supporting livelihoods and school enrolment amongst other things in a bid to eradicate and prevent child labour.
By offering social protection many children will stay in school and out of work which in turn will grant them a better chance to fulfil their own potential, in turn helping break intergenerational cycles of poverty and supporting sustainable economic growth.
In Kenya It is an offence under Article 56 of the Employment Act to employ a child under 13 and contravening the law attracts a fine of up to Sh200, 000 or imprisonment of 12 months or both.
However, this does not deter the crime as data from Kenya National Bureau of Standards (KNBS) shows 8.5 percent, or 1.3 million, of Kenyan children are in child labour with Arid and semi-arid counties having the highest rates, at over 30 per cent.
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Of this, an estimated 60 percent of child labour occurs in agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry, in that order.
Poverty and illiteracy are major causes of child labour in Kenya. The above trends undermine children’s rights, well-being, and development, as well as the efforts being made through the Sustainable Development Goals and other mechanisms to eradicate child labour.
One of the social protection plan by the government for children is cash transfer to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) under inua Jamii program.
In May The Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes released KSh.8, 574,848,000 in it social protection program targeting Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Older Persons 70+ and Persons with Severe Disability. Each beneficiary received Ksh8, 000 for the two payment cycles.
According to the United Nation one out of every five children under 14 is still working worldwide. In addition 160 million children globally are involved in one form of child labour or another-some as young as 5 years old. Of this 63 million are girls and 97 million are boys.
Nearly half of these children are engaged in hazardous work likely to cause physical and emotional harm.