Hivos, as coordinator of the Stop Child Labour Coalition (SCL), commissioned SOMO to conduct research into the use of child labour in gold mining in Uganda. The report No Golden Future contains the results of this field study in Uganda, describing the specific conditions for child workers at these sites. An estimated of 15,000 children are working at these sites in Uganda.
The Stop Child Labour Coalition partners are running a project called ‘Out of work and into school’, which supports the elimination of child labour by strengthening an area-based approach towards child labour free zones. Where possible, the partners seek the active participation of sustainability initiatives and companies. In the context of this project, the SCL Coalition wants to reach out to electronics companies and urge them to take action to combat child labour in their supply chains.
Objective of the research
The objective of SOMO’s research is two-fold: first, to determine the use and magnitude of child labour in the artisanal gold mining in Uganda; and second, to provide insight into the supply chain from the mines to the point of export. Although the main focus is on child labour, the report will also include other labour and social aspects to understand the interrelated (root) causes of child labour.
Facts on child labour in Uganda
A huge number of children work in Uganda’s artisanal gold mines. Of all the artisanal gold miners in Uganda, between 20 to 30 per cent are children. Some children (periodically) attend primary school whilst still working in the mines to pay for their education, clothes and books. Many other children work in the mines throughout the year and some even live on the mining sites. The research shows that very few of the children go on to secondary school. Gold mining is arduous work even for adults, but for children the conditions are even more unsafe, unhealthy and the exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals, including mercury, can lead to life-long health problems.
The Guardian published an article about No Golden Future on their website:
Silence far from golden for child labourers in the mines of Uganda – Official records deny its very existence, but the grim reality is that gold unearthed by children working in Ugandan mines is flowing freely into the global market