U.S. Department of Labor, Pact to combat child labor, promote mine safety in Colombia

October 1, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that Pact will carry out a four-year, $9 million project to combat child labor in Colombia while also improving mine safety for adults.

The Pact grant was one of four totaling $26 million that are part of the Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs’ ongoing initiative to reduce extreme child labor around the world. The projects were revealed at the event “Then, Now, Next: U.S. Department of Labor’s Enduring Commitment to Ending the Worst Forms of Child Labor,” at which the Department also released its 2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report.

"These reports remind us that children and adults continue to be exploited for their labor in countries around the world. Until this is no longer true, our work is not done," said Secretary Perez. "We need to call upon governments, international and regional organizations, social partners and civil society to work together to end these human rights abuses." New global estimates from the International Labour Organization place the number of child laborers at 168 million worldwide.

Pact, which has cooperated with the Department of Labor in the past to fight child labor in Madagascar, also works in the Democratic Republic of Congo on behalf of an industry consortium to ensure mines there are “conflict-free”.

“Worldwide, Pact is helping people whose lives are connected to the mining industry to be healthier and safer with better access to markets for their minerals,”

said Mark Viso, CEO and president of Pact. “We’re especially proud to work with the Department of Labor, the Government of Colombia and local partners to not only help children escape work in the mines and improve mine safety for adults, but also to help improve livelihood opportunities for adults in households where children resort to mining to make ends meet in their families.”

In addition to the child labor project in Colombia, the Department of Labor is supporting new projects to reduce child labor in agriculture in the Dominican Republic.

The project will work with the Government of Colombia to develop policies to combat child labor in the mining sector and strengthen its capacity to identify and address violations of child labor and occupational safety and health (OSH) laws in mining communities. It will also provide education and livelihood opportunities for households vulnerable to child labor in mining in the Departments of Antioquia and Boyacá and establish an exchange program to share strategies to combat child labor and address OSH in artisanal mining. 

Pact plans to work in partnership with Colombian NGOs Fundación Alianza por la Minería Responsable (ARM), Fundación Mi Sangre (FMS), and El Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez-Fondo Acción (FA) primarily in the Department of Antioquia with a focus on gold mining and in the Department of Boyaca with its coal mines.


About Pact – Pact is a promise of a better tomorrow for all those who are poor and marginalized. Working in partnership to develop local solutions that enable people to own their own future, Pact helps people and communities build their own capacity to generate income, improve access to quality health services, and gain lasting benefit from the sustainable use of the natural resources around them. At work in nearly 30 countries, Pact is building local promise with an integrated, adaptive approach that is shaping the future of international development.