STAKEHOLDERS in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining, ASGM, in Nigeria have been charged to support the elimination of child labour in the sector.

An international Civil Society Organisation,
Solidaridad in collaboration with the International Labour Organization(ILO) gave the charge during a workshop organised last week in Abuja for the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chain in Africa (ACCEL Africa Project).

According to a statement signed by Mr
Pita Ochai, Programme officer, Communications, Solidaridad in Nigeria, the
participants at the workshop were drawn from Civil society organizations (CSOs), the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, academics, and artisanal miners from Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, and Plateau states.

The statement read in part: “Solidaridad, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), organized private sector engagement workshop to expose key stakeholders to the Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale Miners in engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT Code) with particular emphasis on child labour risks and setting the stage for Public-Private Partnerships to support the elimination of child labour in the ASGM sector in Nigeria.

“The participants are to identify relevant laws that will enable the private sector and other businesses in the elimination of child labour, ensure the support of stakeholders to enforce the child rights acts and conventions, and encourage corporate social responsibility (CRS) of private sectors operating along the gold supply chain, and as well create public enlightenment on the risks of child labour.

“Yaw Britwum Opoku, Programme Manager, Responsible Mining, Solidaridad, said CRAFT helps to bridge the gap between legitimate artisanal producers and refiners, jewellers, electronics companies, banks, and other supply chain actors.

“The code helps both buyers and miners to assess critical social and environmental risks, such as child labour, illicit trade, and uncontrolled use of chemicals, among others in artisanal supply chains.

“The code is progressive, defining clear criteria for critical risks while assessing opportunities for- and making commitments to – mitigate risks and improve on other social, environmental and safety practices.

“The Director, Department of artisanal and small-scale mining, federal ministry of mines and steel development, Nigeria, Ojeka Patrick,
declared the workshop open on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development.

“The Minister said that the ministry has over the years made concerted efforts to eliminate child labour in the mining sector through sensitization, advocacy, awareness creation and the establishment of enabling environment for children who live in mine host communities to have normal and decent lives”

According to the statement , Vanessa Phala, ILO director of country officer for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the liaison office for ECOWAS, described CRAFT Code as a unique tool that contributes to enhancing formalization of the ASGM sector by promoting its social, environmental, and economic development through the implementation of due diligence practices in the framework of both international regulations and national laws.

“In particular, Phala said it is designed to help both upstream and downstream players in the value chain to assess critical social and environmental risks, with a specific focus on empowering artisanal miners to improve their practices in order to create better working environments as well as access to global markets and better trading conditions”

According to the statement, the Stakeholders
during the workshop pledged their commitment to work toward the elimination of child labour in the gold mining sector in Nigeria.

“In June 2019, the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the international year for the Elimination of Child Labour. This is to reaffirm member states’ commitments “to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

“Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa) is a regional project funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“The project aims to address the root causes of child labour and has the overarching goal of accelerating the elimination of child labour in Africa through targeted actions in selected supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire (cocoa, gold mining), Egypt (cotton), Malawi (coffee and tea), Mali (gold mining and cotton), Nigeria (cocoa, gold mining) and Uganda (coffee and tea).

“Solidaridad West Africa has been engaged by the ILO for the implementation of the Code of Risk Mitigation for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT Code) and due diligence processes in the Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector in Nigeria, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Solidaridad West Africa is an international civil society organization promoting sustainable production, food security and robust small and medium enterprises (SME) service delivery in the cocoa, oil palm, cotton, aquaculture, and gold supply chains in West Africa”, the statement noted.

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