Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tigo award winner promises to engage in the fight against child labour malpractices

ABOUT a month ago, innovative entrepreneurs over the use of digital technology witnessed a wonderful event of the human change of lifestyle when the innovative telecom company in the country, ‘Tigo Tanzania’ awarded two social entrepreneurs who emerged winners of its annual ‘digital change makers’ competition of the year 2015. It was really an exciting event which was graced by Swedish Ambassador accredited in the country Ms. Katarina Rangnitt. The Ambassador, who took part to award 20,000 US Dollar to each winner as a guest of honour at the occasion, also thanked Tigo for the initiative it has taken towards alleviating poverty by empowering entrepreneurs in the country. Among the two winners is Bihaga Edward, who resides from Kigoma region where he works with Umoja wa wawezeshaji KIOO as the executive director, and another one is Neema Shosho. Each one of whom came out with an innovative idea that impressed the jurists in a panel prior to their selection that made them emerged winners.  Umoja wa wawezeshaji KIOO, abbreviated as KIOO is a voluntary non-governmental, non-political, non-religious, and non-profit sharing organization that was established in 2001 and officially registered in 2004 under the Societies Ordinance of 1954 with certificate of registration number S.O. 12793.  The organization’s mission is to promote and protect human rights of the poor and marginalized groups, especially women and vulnerable children and improving sustainable community development.  According to Edward, KIOO is the philosophical word that means “something which someone can make reflection and hence make changes”. He says more than 10 years his firm has been working with the community to raise awareness mostly in areas whereby children rights are neither valued nor cared. In line with this, he has dedicated himself to work against child labour by giving awareness through digital means in Kigoma region where children aged between 7 and 17 years are exposed to child labour from Uvinza district contrary to Child Act No 21 of 2009. In an exclusive interview, Edward confirmed that most children are made to work and used as cheap labour in the fishing camps and tobacco farming areas for no reasons, while those who employs them knows that are doing mistakes as stipulated in Child labor laws. Elaborating on the ways through which he could manage his work Edward said that, “his project on the awareness of the problem of the child labour to the community would be disseminated in three major ways”. “This project has three components basing on the awareness rising as a way to bridge the gap of ignorance”, he said adding that this will be done by sending short messages through mobile phones and supplying “MP3” as a digital innovation. Through this digital innovation, he says he will ensure that all education materials on child labour are converted into audio form to be used into MP3 format that may be used into radio and mobile phone that will enable the affected household to listen while working or resting before bedtime. The information will be encouraging family members and change their attitude and refrain from sending their children to work as such incidences are harmful to them. He further noted that, there will also be some radio programs where community members will be allowed to ask question and get answers from different stakeholders that will be invited to talk about child labour in special programs prepared to enlighten the community on various effects resulting into child labour. “In that way I hope that more people will be impacted with the digital means”, he affirmed. The target audiences envisage to impact with this project with MP3 audio materials will be given to the selected household with children in labour so that they may be listened by them before bedtime. Others would be local government to advocate for law enforcement and community at large. Moreover in every selected village there will be a station where a radio with ability of using ‘MP3’ will be kept to enable more community members to listen to information that have been converted into audio form. He further noted that, in every village there will be a child labor monitor that will be identified from community members themselves who will have responsibility of monitoring what is going on at grass root level. According to him, these are child labour monitors who will have to monitor and report through the given mobile phone, their reporting will be through structure and unstructured “SMs” that will have to be sent by them to the established data base to be analyzed for further action. Describing about how child labour is enforced in rural communities, he noted that this due to economic reasons as many families are looking for the ways on how they could survive and have better life like other individuals in the community. He says that, one component which drivers the notion in an extreme level is lack of women economic empowerment. According to him most of the families with children that involve in forceful labour are coming from women headed families even those who are men headed still women are playing a great role. Family members are using children to substitute their income not because they desire to do so but because there is no alternatives to help their beloved children. In that way empowering women economically with skills to run small business in their area will reduce burden to children of being used as substitute for family income. This will be done by taking all women from the identified household within the respective village and group them into production groups that would help them generate incomes with a view to alleviate them from abject poverty levels. The groups he mentioned are such as VICOBA through village banking education, after a while they will be given a start-up capital through the revolving funding that is going to be initiated by the project where any transfer to and from a group will be done through mobile money transfer (Tigo pesa) as a digital innovation. Edward mentioned the last component will be vocational, business and entrepreneurship trainings at Ilagala education and vocational training centre that is owned by his organization. Here also there will be two categories of children. He clarified that, the first group will be all children with school age that has dropout from school, these will be rejoined back to school and given all necessary support for them to stay at school. The second group is all children that are out of school age that will join their education and vocational training centre for vocational, business and entrepreneurship skills indifferent aspects depending to their desire. Commenting on how serious the issue of child labour in Tanzania is, Edward noted that, it s a worst form of human activity which is an exploitative that harms children and affects their growth and physical development.  Outlining on the main causes, he noted that there are numerous reasons but the most basic ones includes deaths of parents whereby the remaining members of the family do not take care of the orphans, who in turn tend to seek for their own livelihoods by engaging in illegal labour. Extreme poverty at household level is another cause, in this the family are not able to provide all requirements to their children as a result children are used as substitute to income, children are forced to work in either fishing camps or tobacco farming for that they can earning income that will contribute to welfare of the family. Ignorance of policies, laws and convention that safeguarding the wellbeing of a child as signed and produced by the government. All of these important documents are paper work and they are not available at grass root level as a result the financial power people use this as a weakness and using children as their cheap labour. With all these mischiefs, Edward is appealing to the government to be so serious with the issue and take necessary steps to save the unprivileged groups most of which are subjected to child labour malpractices. “For the government I ask them to enforce laws for the betterment of our future generation, they should also look on how they can support this movement of information dissemination so that more people country wide may be reached. Some of conflict laws about child and working ages should be worked upon.

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