Workshops to tackle child labor [Archives:2004/769/Community]

September 2 2004

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

The Child Labor Fighting Department (CLFD) of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor will begin workshops in different governorates this month to help reduce the number of working children in Yemen.
According to Mona Salim, Head of CLFD, the workshops will be geared towards working with governorates that should help form a comprehensive plan to fight child labor.
“The workshops aim at deeply studying the needs of each governorate according to the nature of labor n order to design a comprehensive strategy to fight child labor in every governorate during the next ten years,” said Salim.
The workshops are scheduled to first start in Hodeidah, Haja and Mahweet, followed by Sana'a, Ibb, Taiz, Aden and Abyan.
Carrying out the workshops is part of the second phase of the child Labor Fighting Project that has support from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and The World Bank.
Although it is difficult to calculate the number of children working in Yemen, it is estimated that there are roughly two million working children out of Yemen's 19 million population. Child laborers are believed to work nearly as much as full-time adults putting in an average of almost 39 hours a week.
Afrah Al-Ahmadi, Head of Health and Social Protection at Social Fund for Development, said that there are a number of important projects underway to deal with child labor. The first rehabilitation center for working children in Yemen was established in Sana'a in early 2003. The joint venture between ILO and the municipal government of the capital works with up to 350 child laborers with an aim to get the children to go to school. The second rehabilitation center was opened in Mukalla earlier this year.
Some have been critical recently of how Yemen has been dealing with child labor. The country's prominent reform programs – the Strategic Vision 2025, the Second Five-year plan for Economic and Social Development and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper – do not address the issue of child labor. Although there have been many programs, projects and NGOs working in Yemen over the last few years, some believe that there needs to be better coordination to tackle the problem of child labor.
To create a more comprehensive strategy, Yemen is working on developing the National Strategy for Children and Youth. The plan aims to study the conditions of children and coordinate programs and policies to take on the problems children face in a comprehensive manner. It helps steer efforts from the government and organizations across the board to improve the living conditions of children, ranging from health and education to reducing the number of working children.
The report will be ready and presented to the government in the middle of 2005.