On June 12, World Day Against Child Labor, Pact, an international development organization, debuted its first short documentary film revealing on-the-ground evidence of progress in the fight against child labor in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Pact’s Mines to Markets program, Watoto Inje ya Mungoti, or Children Out of Mining, in Manono, DRC, highlights a region reliant on the labor-intensive and dangerous work of extracting minerals.
Filmed in April 2018, Pact and production firm Digital Development Communications visited Manono to document the stories of the children, their families and community. The resulting film tells their story—in their own voices—and shines a light on achievements in Manono, including a more than 90 percent reduction in child labor within the target mine sites.
“Many children in this region start working in small-scale mines at a very young age out of necessity, enduring dangerous and intensive working conditions no young person should ever experience,” said Karen Hayes, Vice President of the Mines to Markets program at Pact. “We have worked hard to engage closely with families, businesses, government and all parts of the community to ensure everyone understands the hazards to children and show that there are alternatives. This documentary, led by the children of Manono themselves, celebrates the more than 1,000 children we have helped to withdraw from mining and who, hopefully, never need to return thanks to the support and skills development they are receiving as well as the change in local perceptions about the acceptability child mining.”
Since 2003, Pact has led an integrated approach to target the root causes of the complex issue of child labor in artisanal and small-scale mines across the globe covering minerals from tin, tantalum, tungsten, copper, cobalt, coal and gold. Initiatives to help the children of the DRC have a better, safer future have the active engagement of industry leaders like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm, among others. In 2017, for example, Apple partnered with Pact in the DRC to raise safety awareness in mining communities and offer greater vocational education opportunities to at-risk youth in the region.
The Trafigura Foundation is another one of the many supporters leading the charge on the elimination of child labor and the improvement of the livelihoods of miners and their families, while the Trafigura corporation is breaking new ground in responsible sourcing of artisanally-mined minerals free of child labor. In addition, successful programs in Colombia, such as the Somos Tesoro project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the International Tin Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI) funded by upstream industry through the International Tin Association in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, have led to improved livelihoods for thousands of miners. Last year, Pact’s Mines to Markets program reached more than 71,000 miners and 350,000 people who rely on artisanal and small-scale mining around the world.
“We are honored to have such strong support around the world from organizations working to eradicate child labor and ensure sustainable and conflict-free supply chains,” said Hayes. “Without the leadership of the GE Foundation, The Boeing Company, International Tin Association, Qualcomm, Microsoft, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rocbelt, Hope Mining Cooperative, Children’s Voice and ARDERI, the Government of the DRC, and the miners and children of Manono this work would not have been possible, and these stories may never be told.”
Ending child labor in mining is possible, but there is more that needs to be done. Pact continues to seek additional funding and resources, to expand this positive change and increase sustainable practices worldwide.
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 pactworld.org.