Tiny but mighty voices against child labour in cobalt mining

Children in mining areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) expressed in artistic forms to their communities the child labour-free future they want through the ILO Supporting Children's Rights through Education, the Arts and the Media (SCREAM) training provided by the 8.7 Accelerator Lab Project.

News | 20 November 2023
"I don't want to go to the mine anymore," Kamb (not his real name) told the ILO adding that his little brother who also works in the mine has a hand injury due to a fallen rock. "I do not want to be the next victim," the Grade 3 student from Lubumbashi said.

More than half of the world's supply of cobalt comes from the DRC, where children like Kamb and his brother work in hazardous and life-threatening conditions in the artisanal mining sector. In response to this issue, the Government has set up the Inter-Ministerial Commission to Tackle the Issue of Child Labour at Artisanal Mining Sites (CISTEMA) to coordinate efforts to address child labour.

“ILO is providing technical support to the work of CISTEMA and the Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder Country Roadmap implemented by the Committee on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. These include addressing root causes such as poverty through livelihood interventions, training labour inspectors, scaling up the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System while at the same time increasing awareness in the community including through the promotion of SCREAM.” explained Armel Odilon Nganzi, Project Manager of 8.7 Accelerator Lab Project in DRC.
Collage of images expressing the hardships of children in the mines (ILO).
Twenty children from C.S LAPISCINE (secondary), C.S LE ROCHER D'OR (primary and secondary) and C.S LA RICHE (secondary) were introduced by the 8.7 Accelerator Lab Project to ILO's modules on SCREAM from 28-30 September 2023.

Children drew what they observed along the road on their way to school and to the quarry. The theatrical plays demonstrated the dangers of working in the mines. Children also composed songs that discourage their friends from working in the mines and highlight that their place is in school, in their families and in church.

For me, I thought at the beginning that the activity was not important, but when I followed it carefully, I understood that it was very important that this sensitization becomes a routine activity within our school. We have a lot of children who go to our school who are working in the mines."

Mr. Nyembo Mugalu, a school administrator

This SCREAM intervention was followed by a Community Fair where these children's drawings were shown and theatrical performances and songs using SCREAM were performed.

On 30 September, children and their teachers participated in the parades and demonstrations holding banners that carried messages calling for an end of child labour in the mines. Some elderly people and all the children who were working on the embankments of a mining company stopped and followed the march.

Over 1,800 individuals among students, teachers and other community members were reached by this activity which was covered by the GOLGOTHA Radio and Television, a radio and television station followed by the entire RUASHI community.

Awareness raising at Le Rocher d' Or (ILO).

The same activities were implemented in Kambove territory from 7-9 October with more than 1050 individuals, including children, parents, government authorities, the Police and those responsible for childcare facilities, participating and learning about child labour issues and interventions that are needed.

Mr Francis Kalongo Kayembe the administrator of the territory of Kambove, in his speech, congratulated the efforts of the organizers of this activity, while acknowledging that it is their duty to discourage child labour in the mines.

During the Community Fair event, this song lyrics reverberated in the community of Kambove, "L’Etat Congolais alishakusema batoto batoke mu kirima, batoto bende ku masomo" which means "the DRC government already said that children should leave the mines and be in school".

To find out more about the 8.7 Accelerator Lab, visit www.ilo.org/87acceleratorlab