Monday, July 4, 2022
Home Selling for Survival: Gambia Grapples with Prevalent Child Labour

Selling for Survival: Gambia Grapples with Prevalent Child Labour

By Fatou Dahaba

In Gambia, children as old as under ten years have become key economic players at the detriment of their future. This is visible mainly in the country’s metropolitans such as the greater Banjul area and rural towns doing different forms of labor that have the potential to sway them from their academic journey.
COVID-19 has resulted in a rise in poverty and therefore to an increase in child labour as households use every available means to survive. Some studies show that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 per cent increase in child labour in certain countries.
Children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions. More of them may be forced into the worst forms of labour, which causes significant harm to their health and safety.
Children in the Gambia continue to be exposed to the deadly virus in their daily routine of selling without wearing of face mask, and observing social distancing. They could be seen in Serekunda one of the busiest market in the Gambia selling water and roasted groundnut in the mist of commuters.
However the Government of the Gambia has not provided any quarantine centre for children when they come in contact with the virus.
Jainaba, 14 (not her real name) a grade eight student said her aunt would not let her to go to school without selling water every day. ‘She asked me to do this business to support her in terms of financial needs.
Her daily economic routines include selling water in the Serekunda market every morning before she goes to school in the afternoon. She does this even during the pandemic without wearing of face mask.
“I’ve been doing this for a while now, maybe for five years when I was ten years old. At the beginning of the pandemic when lessons were going on TV and radio stations she never allow me to follow lessons. I’ am always in the market selling till late in the evening and by the time I close I’ am already exhausted and cannot follow evening classes, Jainaba explains.
It has been affecting me more especially in the beginning but I guess I’m used to it now. But I believe that without engaging in water selling, my performance could even be better than this in school,” she said.
Jainaba narrated her ordeals she gets from her business trips every day in the form of a general body pain which leads to her skipping her study time tables at home for many occasions.
“Yes! I know that some of my classmates that are ahead of me will not beat me in academic performance if I should get enough rest and study time.”
The practice of children selling water, pea nuts and cakes are rampant across The Gambia. The practice has contributed to the rate of drop-outs of school for many children especially girls.
The Gambia ratified ILO’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor 1999 (C182) since July 2001 which prohibited all forms of hazardous activities that may compromise the physical, mental, social or educational development of children.
An increasing number of young boys are also being used as apprentices for commercial vehicle drivers – with tasks to open and close vehicle doors for passengers as well as collecting fares.
Almamo Secka (not his real name) said he makes sure he goes home with some money for his family. “I am a great 12 student and when I close from school at 2:00pm, I go to the garage to meet my boss and eat lunch. My mother is sick, so we the children at home share responsibility to feed ourselves and take care of our sick mother.

“The job is really not easy because opening and closing the van doors can be laborious after a while. I sleep off when I get home because I am usually tired from the opening and closing of the door and also shouting for customers. The worst thing is that during the luck down my colleagues were going to school for studies which I was not aware of and this really affect me as it take me weeks before I could catch-up.’
According Almamo, his parents are happy with his work because it makes him take care of his own daily lunch sum at school. At 16, in grade 10, he normally joins his driver between early morning and midday on school days and rests on the day on non-school days.
Millions more children risk being pushed into child labour as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, which could lead to the first rise in child labour after 20 years of progress, according to a new brief from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.
A mother who also engages her children in water selling, Taibou Jadama justified that “I have eight children that I take care of, and this is the reason I have to do this.”
Taibou has been selling vegetables, leaves, groundnut etc in the market for close to 10 years.

“My children have to help me with the selling. I am doing this for them and if all the work is left to me alone, it will not bring in enough money for the family. My husband is not feeling well and he is bedridden and covid-19 has make life challenging for my family as I was not able to provide the three daily meal.’
The Child Protection Alliance’s National Coordinator Lamin Fatty indicated that the government could have played its part well by implementing the child rights and protection regulations, which he said have created a conducive environment for children’s wellbeing and participation.

He said government did not capture children in their covid-19 respond package and they are the most vulnerable when it comes to the virus.
He further state that covid has affect all the sectors but children more and as a result they have been protected and because of their vulnerability some have been expose to abuse and exploitation.
According to the child protection activist, they have conducted an assessment in the regions to look at facilities in terms of quarantine facility whether there is any for children and there has not been any in all the regions.
‘we have seen children on the street begging, selling and doing other form of job and in term of abuse there has been a great increment in the number of sexual abuse cases of children particularly about rape and this has been in the increase since the beginning of the pandemic.’
He added that the law around child exploitation has never been implemented and the perpetrators are never brought to book. He recommends for the full implementation of the domestic laws as a way of ending the practice.
“The state should enforce the provisions in the Children’s Act 2005 and Labor Act 2007 which prohibit child labor or the engagement of children in works or activities which are exploitative, hazardous or not in the best interest of children.”
“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “Social protection is vital in times of crisis, as it provides assistance to those who are most vulnerable. Integrating child labour concerns across broader policies for education, social protection, justice, labour markets, and international human and labour rights makes a critical difference.”

Names changed for confidentiality

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

World Expo 2030: Busan offers a vision for a sustainable future

South Korea's second-largest city in the south of the country is embarking on an ambitious undertaking to establish a collaborative body to foster global...

City Link Ostend- Banjul & Partners Launches School Nursery Initiative

By Ousainou J. Sawaneh (PrinCE OjeE) As part the efforts to combat the effects of climate change in the country, City Link Ostend- Banjul in...

New Councillors sworn-in following Local Government By-Election

The newly elected Councillors of the Kanifing Municipal Council yesterday took Oath of Office, following the 2022 Local Government By-Election. Newly elected Councillor Aji Saptieu...

Project sensitizes communities on the dangers of Unintentionally Produced Persistent Organic Pollutants

By:- Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang The National Environment Agency is implementing a four year project on behalf of the Gambia as part of the implementation of...