Young faces in dangerous places : a critical re-appraisal of the child labour debate in Africa's artisanal and small-scale mining sector

Angelique Gatsinzi
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of child labour in the world. An estimated one third of the region's boys and girls aged 5-17 are believed to be 'economically active'. These staggering figures have led to an international crusade to eliminate child labour globally, focusing on hazardous work because there is shared consensus among policymakers that it is a violation of human rights and a major impediment to human capital
more » ... ion and therefore, stands in the way of sustainable economic growth in countries where it is found. One country in the region where this problem is particularly visible, and which has been heavily scrutinised by the ILO and implementation partners in particular for having high concentrations of what is referred to in the donor lexicon as Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) is Ghana. A major focus of these assessments is artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), low-tech, labour-intensive mineral extraction and processing which, throughout Ghana and most other areas in sub-Saharan Africa, is mostly poverty-driven, providing employment to otherwise incomeless families. The campaign spearheaded by the ILO under the auspices of the WFCL agenda to eliminate child labour from ASM in Ghana and the wider sub-region builds a case around how young boys and girls carry out arduous work and are generally being exploited at sites. Recent research, however, has revealed that the child labour 'problem' in Ghana and rural sub-Saharan Africa more broadly is far more nuanced than has been diagnosed by donors. The ASM sector is no exception: research undertaken over the past decade has shown that the growth of its activities linked to a wider de-agrarianisation process – specifically the movement of rural families into the nonfarm economy, in response to the inability of agriculture to sustain, fully, their economic needs – to which the child labour 'problem' diagnosed is inextricably linked. Specifically, the ASM sector, being the reg [...]
doi:10.15126/thesis.00850789 fatcat:rrjgsmhvwraszgy3n55wlirsyy