Combatting rural youth migration and child labour in Wacoro, Mali

Before the start of the Stop Child Labour project in Wacoro (Mali) carried out by NGO CAEB, children living in the commune would migrate to big cities and gold-washing sites. These children were subjected to many forms of labour in their host communities. This situation represented a deliberate violation of children’s rights. Children would migrate for two reasons. Firstly, they were encouraged by their own parents to earn money for the family.  Secondly, some children were attracted by the luxurious side of cities or by gold washing activities (they are eager to know what happens there). However, many of them went back home empty-handed and often suffered from unknown diseases.

The Stop Child Labour project’s intervention in this area has helped mitigate this phenomenon through the recruitment of over 350 children in so called SSA/P centers. Known as bridge centers, SSA/P centers represent an alternative that allows children beyond school-going age and drop-outs of school to get formal quality education. Furthermore, information and sensitization, Watchdogs committees, producers and school management committees helped reduce the number of displaced children.

The opportunity of attending a formal school system offered to 350 children by SSA/P has reduced the flow of migrant children to big cities and gold washing sites from 109 down to 41 children. Through the monitoring provided by parents and committees, children are less and less employed at the expense of school.

In addition to the SSA-P, 115 learners have been identified to learn a trade in the commune of Wacoro alone. Trade masters have been targeted to train children. Gradually, child apprentices’ mindset has been changed concerning the right of children and teachers. They realize that learning a trade makes someone independent and gives him some autonomy in his working live. All vocational teachers’ capacities have been built on children’s right and technical skills transfer.

There has been a growing awareness among the community in relation to respecting children’s rights. Many parents have enrolled their children into SSA-P centers and vocational centers. The number of children provided for both activities has been exceeded. Parents have pledged to seek replacement birth certificates for school-age children and those attending SSA-P centers before October 2016.

To defend the rights of children, the municipal council of the commune of Wacoro has ruled on a number of principles that protect children against the worst forms of work, and pledged to integrate them into the future PDESEC and commune budget. Clubs to defend children’s rights will soon be opened in all schools in the commune.