ILO and ECAM collaborate to fight child labour in Malawi

The USD $100,000 action programme has been agreed this week under the ILO’s Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) have signed an action programme to mobilise the country’s private sector in the fight against child labour in Malawi.

The new action programme will see ECAM establish a National Employer Taskforce Against Child Labour, promote child labour elimination policies and practices across the private sector, and facilitate more and better Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investments by companies to address the root causes of child labour in supply chains.

“The Employers’ Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) is proud to be part of the ACCEL Africa project. Malawi being an Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder Country, this new action programme will help to show the commitment of business in the country to come up with practical solutions to reduce the prevalence of child labour in Malawi”, said Mr. George Khaki, Executive Director of ECAM.

“We plan to spur employers to devise innovative ways of tackling child labour, especially in the agriculture sector and associated value chains where child labour is prevalent. COVID-19 is likely to see more children in Malawi drawn into child labour due to loss of incomes by breadwinners. This makes our new action programme especially important”, added Mr. Khaki.

The action programme, valued at more than MWK 73 million (almost USD $100,000) has been agreed this week under the ILO’s Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa) project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands.

“Through this action programme, we are pleased to be supporting ECAM to strengthen the capacity of Malawi’s private sector to improve compliance regarding child labour, especially in the country’s tea and coffee supply chains”, said Mr. George Okutho, Director of the ILO’s Country Office for Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Child labour is widespread in Malawi with the most recent National Child Labour Survey (NCLS 2015) showing that 38 percent of children aged 5 – 17 are involved in child labour, the majority of whom are working in the agriculture sector, and approximately half of whom are engaged in hazardous child labour.

The Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) promotes, guides, and protects the interests of employers in Malawi in the areas of labour, employment, and related socio-economic issues. ECAM was registered in 1963 under the Trustees Incorporation Act as an employers’ trade association representing all subscribing employers. ECAM is a member of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the SADC Private Sector Forum. ECAM has a direct membership of 250 organizations which includes six associations, and collectively represents more 277, 000 members.

A United Nations agency founded more than one hundred years ago in 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 countries to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. Malawi has been a member of the ILO since 1965. The ILO is implementing a portfolio of projects in Malawi relating to child labour, social protection, skills, and HIV/AIDS in the workplace, within the framework of the country’s second Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP).

Tea is Malawi’s second-largest export after tobacco, accounting for around 7% of Malawi’s exports, valued at MWK 70,140 million in 2017, while coffee exports from Malawi amounted to MWK 2,117 million in 2017, according to the 2019 edition of ‘Malawi in Figures’ published by the Government of Malawi.