“MY son no longer engages in child labour as I now provide for his basic needs including scholastic materials,” says Ms Anna Ramadhani 27, one of the 35 beneficiaries of a loan scheme introduced by PROSPER programme at Kasisi Village, Urambo District in Tabora Region.
PROSPER is a four-and-a half year programme designed to complement efforts by government, employers, workers, the tobacco industry and civil society organizations in fighting child labour in the tobacco growing sector in Tanzania. Ms Ramadhani, who opened up a shop thanks to the 170,000/- loan from the programme, says she pays school fees for her son Hamis Ramadhani (13), who is in standard five at Kasisi Primary School.
She also added that from the proceeds of her shop she can afford to buy school materials including uniforms, shoes, books and a bag.
The headteacher of Kasisi Primary School, Mr Nuru Hamad, says the PROSPER programme has improved the learning environment, as the school recently received text books worth 7m/- from the programme.
According to Urambo District PROSPER Programme Coordinator, Mr Paul Medeye, “The project started from scratch and community members were brought on board,” he says.
Mr Medeye points out that two community activists are identified and trained to take a lead in the identification of children either at risk or already engaged in child labour, and that the village has selected eight members who constitute the village child labour committee and are trained under the project.
In addressing poverty, he says the project targeted mothers who qualify for conditional loans, and the Model Farm School. Mothers are trained on starting up small businesses, record keeping and on income savings. Under the Model Farm School, youths are trained in entrepreneurship skills with a bias towards agriculture.
To date, 25 mothers have received loans and have set up small businesses and are making savings. So far, 38 youths have graduated from the Model Farm and were each given 50 chickens and agricultural inputs for crop production. Mr Medeye further said that the provision of learning material to 72 recipients has contributed significantly to improving school attendance.
In addition, about 114 children participate in after school programmes and mentoring. “Two mentors have been trained in mentoring skills and provide counseling to children through sports and games, school debates and the like. Overall school attendance has improved,” Mr Medeye says. Kasisi village is located in Urambo District 16 kiilometres from Urambo District Headquarters. The village is made up of 570 households with approximately 3 420 inhabitants.
The programme is funded by the Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco Foundation (ECLT) and implemented in Urambo and Sikonge Districts in Tabora Region, by Winrock International in collaboration with Tanzania Association of Women Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment (TAWLAE), the Tabora Development Trust Fund (TDFT) and the government.
It seeks to prevent and withdraw children of all ages from child labour and its worst forms in the tobacco growing sector. It also aims to protect legally worki n g children - those between the ages of 15 and 17 - in tobacco growing areas in the targeted communities.
The programme addresses both social and economic factors that drive smallholder tobacco farmers to employ children in hazardous work and those that impel children to seek such work.