A New Era Starts in Combating Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture

Funded by the European Union, it will be Turkey’s largest project in its domain.

Press release | 23 November 2020
The Project “Elimination of Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture” to be implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Turkey in cooperation with the General Directorate of Labour of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services (MoFLSS) and with funding from the European Union (EU) commenced in October 2020.

Representing Turkey’s largest ever initiative in addressing combating child labour, the 40-month project of 29.7m€ budget aims to field a series of actions to the benefit of many children who migrate with their families in seasonal agriculture and are already working or under the risk of working in agriculture. Work will be undertaken to reach out working children, families, employers, school administrators, teachers, mukhtars (village/neighbour masters) and agricultural intermediaries to withdraw children from labour and redirect them to schooling, as well as strengthen the capacities of national and local institutions.

The Project will be implemented in the provinces of Şanlıurfa, Mardin, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Adana, Mersin, Hatay, İzmir, Manisa, Ankara, Eskişehir, Konya, Malatya, Ordu, Bursa and Düzce which are the top sending and recipient provinces of seasonal agricultural workers. It is intended under the Project to provide 12,000 children with on-site training, counselling and rehabilitation services; provide assistance in the form of educational and stationary materials, hygiene kits, clothing and food; improve living conditions of seasonal agricultural workers and families at settlement areas; refer the family members of children working or under the risk of working in seasonal agriculture to vocational training programmes to build life and work skills; and deliver training on the relevant legislation and the adverse impact of child labour in seasonal agriculture to 200 agricultural intermediaries, 500 employers and 200 village mukhtars.

The Project will also seek to strengthen the capacities of central and provincial units of MoFLSS in planning, administration, coordination, implementation and monitoring for addressing child labour in seasonal agricultural work as well as those of government institutions, social partners, professional organisations and civil society organisations engaged in combating child labour.

A prominent objective of the Project will be to enhance the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Information System (e-METIP) already built by MoFLSS to monitor the access of seasonal agricultural workers and families to services, and establish a Child Labour Monitoring and Tracking System by adding new modules to the existing e-METIP system.
The Child Labour Monitoring and Tracking System to be created by adding new modules to e-METIP and the associated infrastructural work will help track the school attendance and performance of the children withdrawn from labour or prevented from engaging in the world of work, and continuously gather in one single repository all the data relating to the status of seasonal agricultural worker families and their children, and their access to public services.

In the implementation of the project, where the General Directorate of Labour of MoFLSS is the beneficiary of the action, and the Directorate of European Union and Financial Assistance of the same Ministry is the Contracting Authority, it will be worked, at central and local level, closely with the relevant organisations including the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR), and various stakeholders including universities, local authorities, workers’ and employers’ organisations, professional organisations.

Ms. Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services, noted that the Project would greatly contribute to combating with child labour action of our country and said: “Under this project which will support the achievement of the goals of the National Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour adopted and implemented in line with our country’s vision of 2023, services will be provided, in coordination and cooperation with all engaged stakeholders, to improve the living and working conditions including transportation, accommodation, education and healthcare for families in seasonal agricultural work and their children.”

Mr. Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Ambassador and Head of the European Delegation to Turkey said: “We provide 85% of funding to this project, as a part of our wider policy to stand up against child labour. Because child labour is a reality that prevent children from attending school and living in a safe environment. It deprives children of their childhood. Unfortunately, it may be in the food we consume, and the t-shirt we put on... Let’s fight against this all together! ”

Mr. Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, stated that there are many children who have to move with their families in seasonal agriculture, work in fields, gardens and therefore fall behind in education and face many health risks; and ILO’s purpose is to contribute to eliminating “worst forms of child labour”. Mr. Özcan added in this context that they would work on one side to reach out working children, families, employers, school administrators, teachers, mukhtars and agricultural intermediaries to redirect children from fields to schooling, and strengthen the capacities of national and local institutions on the other.