This week, Pact and Qualcomm Incorporated expand our collaboration to tackle critical issues facing mining communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The additional support from Qualcomm will bolster efforts to address child labor in mining, building on the existing Watoto Inje ya Mungoti (Children Out of Mining) project, which works in and around Manono town in the southeastern region of Katanga.
The project has been working in Katanga for the past two years to address the complex issue of child labor in tin, tantalum and tungsten mines, utilizing interventions that are deeply rooted in communities and local institutions and are applicable across many types of mines – tin, tantalum, cobalt, copper, gold – and in other geographic areas.
With research funding from the GE Foundation and seed funding from Boeing and Microsoft, the project made groundbreaking progress in the first two years, decreasing the number of children working in the mines by 89 percent. Activities focused on creating protective environments through engaging neighborhood committees, local schools and government officials, promoting ‘positive parenting’, peer outreach via radio programs and other social events, and educating mineral buyers.
But much remains to be accomplished. Qualcomm’s support will directly advance this work by expanding the popular ‘kid radio’ access, child-to-child outreach and ensuring continuity of the project’s messages in the mines and area communities by the children themselves.
“The more companies and individuals are involved, the more children and communities we can reach,” said Yves Bawa, Pact country director for DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. “Given how dangerous artisanal mines can be and how child mining disrupts a community’s long-term social and economic future, we look forward to expanding our work on this serious issue with the help of Qualcomm.”
Pact has been working for more than 10 years in Congo’s mining communities to improve the lives of artisanal miners and their families on a range of issues, including child labor. Since 2014, Pact and Qualcomm have been working to improve health and safety at mine sites across Congo, training artisanal miners on the most common and serious risks and building a safety culture among workers, site owners and financiers.
Pact’s Mines to Markets program currently works in 10 countries assisting resource-dependent communities to gain lasting benefits from the more sustainable use of their natural resources. Utilizing our unique integrated approach, Pact’s work links mining to livelihoods, governance, health, the environment and strengthening of local, regional and national institutions.
For more information about Pact’s work in mining, please visit www.pactworld.org/mining.