This week, Pact announced new activities to combat child labor in mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through support from Google. Under the expansion, Pact will grow its work in tin mines and cobalt mines in the region formerly known as Katanga, a mineral-rich but impoverished area.
DRC’s vast mineral resources provide formal and informal employment for millions of people across the country, yet almost 70% of the country lives on less than $1 a day. With limited economic opportunities, children often make their way to mines to work, sometimes accompanying their parents. Coupled with extensive cracks in child protection systems and a cultural acceptance of child labor, as well as realities such as child-headed households, there are a variety of reasons why children work at mines.
With increasing demand for portable technology, electric vehicles, computers, batteries, and other devices that include these strategic minerals, demand for tin and cobalt continue to grow.
Since 2015, Pact has been working with local and international partners, including the tin industry association, ITRI, as well as companies like GE, Boeing, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, to address child labor in Katanga’s tin mines through the Children Out of Mining project. With positive, collective action and an integrated package of interventions, we achieved a 97% reduction in the number of children working at project mine sites after the first two years.
“We have been able to make extraordinary progress in the fight against child labor,” said Yves Bawa, Pact country director for DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi. “Across the supply chain, from miners and suppliers to buyers, we’re seeing growing commitment and capacity to support children in mining communities. Google’s commitment will allow us to expand these successes and move further into the critical cobalt supply chain.”
Google’s support will allow us to expand targeted interventions to support particularly vulnerable and older children. An initial capacity assessment of local child protection services will provide the project with a clear picture of gaps and strengths in service delivery, laying the foundation for additional initiatives and interventions in this area and for transfer of responsibility to capable government and local agencies. Additionally, we will expand Pact’s signature WORTH for Miners program, which was developed with the Dutch Government and provides literacy, numeracy, savings, and financial skills to miners to increase mining families’ economic resources and potential.
In cobalt mines, Google’s contribution will support the groundwork that has already begun for local ownership and commitment to addressing child labor through local committees in key mining areas, training of local suppliers on international standards, and conducting exchange visits with other mining communities addressing child labor.
Pact has been working for more than 10 years in Congo’s mining communities to address systemic changes needed to improve the lives of artisanal miners and their families on a range of issues, including child labor. 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.
About Pact – Pact is the promise of a better tomorrow for communities challenged by poverty and marginalization. We serve these communities because we envision a world where everyone owns their future. To do this, we build systemic solutions in partnership with local organizations, businesses and governments that create sustainable and resilient communities where those we serve are heard, capable and vibrant. On the ground in nearly 40 countries, Pact’s integrated, adaptive approach is shaping the future of international development. Visit us at www.pactworld.org.