International Day Of The African Child: Combatting The Worst Forms Of Child Labor In Artisanal Gold Mining Communities In Eastern DRC

Global Communities envisions a world where everyone has the freedom, means and ability to live and prosper with dignity. As the lead implementing agency for the USAID Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we are working closely with artisanal gold supply chain actors, international and local civil society organizations, and the Government of DRC to address the worst forms of child labor in artisanal gold mining operations in many parts of eastern DRC. Guided by international human and labor rights frameworks and policies, as well as the Constitution and the Mining and Labor codes of the DRC where child labor is explicitly prohibited, we are actively working to combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) in DRC in the following ways:

  1. Identifying the risk of WFCL in project-supported supply chains. As part of our project’s Supply Chain Risk Identification and Mitigation processes, we have developed monthly Corrective Action Plans for each artisanal mine site at which we are working, which captures incidences and risks associated with the presence of children and/or the worse forms of child labor at a given site. 
  2. Investing in tangible WFLC risk remediation measures. We are working closely with Zahabu Safi-supported artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) cooperatives to gain great visibility into their workforce demographics by co-investing in a biometric identification initiative. ASM mining cooperatives often have little information and/or control over who accesses the artisanal mining zones they are attributed by the government. By co-investing with the project in biometric identification services and technology, project-supported cooperatives are now able to ensure that unauthorized workers, including children, pregnant women, and armed group members are prevented from accessing the site.
  3. Raising Awareness. We are working closely with ASM cooperatives to raise awareness in the larger community about child labor. We have also worked with project-supported cooperatives to ensure that the relevant signage and protocols are in place that prohibit the presence of children on their sites.
  4. Unlocking the power of cooperatives as corporate citizens to contribute to positive youth development in their communities. As members of the private sector, ASM cooperatives have an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the economic and social development of their communities. With this vision, we are working with project-supported cooperatives to identify opportunities to contribute to the establishment and realization of their respective community development plans. This requires open communication and close collaboration with their customary and community leaders, government partners and civil society organizations. Specifically, in South Kivu, we are working with two ASM cooperatives, SAEMAPE (local government agencies that govern ASM cooperatives) and a few local NGOs to improve studying conditions for children in schools near our project-supported sites, and to connect youth who are not in schools to workforce training and other income-generation activities.
  5. Supporting government-led, multi-stakeholder efforts to combat child labor in the mining sector in DRC. Working closely with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Government of DRC has committed to the establishment of an Interministerial Commission to the tackle the issue of Child Labor at artisanal mining sites in the country called “CISTEMA.” This commission was established at the national level, and it is chaired by the Ministry of Mines, with a vision to establish related bodies at the provincial level. Through our work, Global Communities has been providing support and advice to the local civil society partner who is exploring the feasibility of CISTEMA affiliates at the local level.

Through our partnership with USAID, and our collaboration with the Government of DRC, and the private sector, we will continue to support the rights of African Children to health, education, safety and the opportunity to pursue their dreams.