The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Protection in Burkina Faso launched a “Week of Action” to end child labour with an official event to commemorate World Day Against Child Labour 2021. The event was attended by all actors involved in the fight against child labour in the country, including CLEAR Cotton.
The event took place in a particularly difficult country context, which is facing a double challenge: a health crisis, due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and a security challenge, particularly in the Sahel, Centre-North, East and North regions. “These two crises, which increase the vulnerability of the population, have an impact on children’s schooling, particularly in areas of high insecurity, and lead children into economic activities at an early age with all the risks associated due to their young age,” said the Ministry representative, Séni Mahamadou Ouédraogo.
Speaking on behalf of technical and financial partners, José Luis Sánchez Alegre, representative of the delegation of the European Union to Burkina Faso, recalled the European Union’s support to the government through projects in the cotton and gold mining value chains, notably CLEAR Cotton. He called on all actors to “persevere every day with more determination to achieve the goal: to end the situation of children forced to work when they should be in school, [and] forced to suffer when they should be learning and growing.”
This year, children were put at the centre, with about 50 taking part in the ceremony, and cheering for the Burkinabé winners of the “Music against child labour” competition. On this occasion, the Burkinabé winners of the contest organised in the framework of the International Year Against Child Labour were announced. More than 200 songs were submitted by artists from 50 countries.
Bené Starr, the national winner in the CLEAR Cotton category, sang her song “Je ne suis qu’un enfant” (“I am just a child”) live to the ovations of the children. Burkinabé artists were particularly prominent at this competition, as the global category was also won by an artist from the country: Bernice Pitroipa, who joined to perform her award-winning song “Mpa koss yé” (“I did not ask”).
The week of action included several other activities, thanks to the mobilization of national actors, supported by the CLEAR Cotton project. In this context, a workshop was held to raise awareness among transport actors on their contribution to the fight against child labour. The objective of this workshop was to recognize their crucial role and to involve drivers and station managers in identifying suspicious cases of child labour or trafficking, especially as the phenomenon, which is particularly visible in urban centres, seems to be increasing.
Similarly, a team from the Directorate for the Fight against Child Labour (DLTE) went to the Centre-South region to carry out controls on gold mining sites and in the informal sector, to participate in meetings with key actors in the fight against child labour in this part of the country, and to take part in radio programmes and games.
Co-funded by the European Union and the ILO, and implemented by the ILO in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the CLEAR Cotton project aims to eliminate child labour and forced labour in Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru in the cotton, textile and garment value chains.