Social protection to reduce child labour

In the mica regions of Madagascar, an estimated 10,800 children as young as five years old work alongside their families to sort and extract mica, which results in poor education and health for children in these regions and perpetuates poverty across generations. ECOPER has been commissioned by UNICEF to elaborate an advocacy paper on ‘Investing in Social Protection to Reduce Child Labour and Improve Child Well-Being in Mica Villages in the South of Madagascar’.

The aim of the advocacy paper will be to mobilize financial resources to expand social protection programmes in the mica provinces. It will be based on an extensive review of policy documents, programme evaluations, UNICEF working documents and academic literature, in addition to the quantitative analysis of data pertaining to the target communities and cash-based interventions implemented in the country. A ten-day field mission to Madagascar will also be conducted, during which the team will gather first-hand data by interviewing community members in mica communes and officials involved in social programmes and child protection.

The advocacy paper will form part of a wider initiative in the framework of UNICEF’s 2021-23 Madagascar country programme. UNICEF is preparing a multisectoral programme in mica mining villages in the Anosy region with the aim of reducing child labour and the negative impacts of the economic exploitation of children. As part of the programme, a Universal Child Benefit (UCB), in addition to an equal opportunity grant for children with severe disabilities, will be provided selected villages in the mica provinces, tentatively between 2022 and 2024. This will be a geographical scale-up of the existing government national safety nets programme but it will remain geographically limited. It is hoped that following this pilot initiative, it will be possible to increase domestic and international investment to further expand social protection in mica communes in the Madagascar.

Previous consultancy work of the team in social protection and child labour includes the report ‘Cash for Development? The use of cash transfers and microcredits as development tools’ and a synthesis review of the ILO’s work towards SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth.