Olivia and Caroline lean on each other in their hair salon.
Olivia and Caroline, both victims of child labour, learned hairdressing as part of the vocational training in our most recent child labour projects.

Project information

Start date: October 2023

End date: March 2026

Location: Busoga sub-region

The Challenge

Child labour can be extremely harmful to children’s health and development, but it remains very common in Uganda, especially in rural areas where, driven by poverty and food insecurity, 60% of children (5-11yrs) are involved in economic activities (UBOS, 2021).

Child labour in sugar and rice production is particularly hazardous–in a 2021 survey, we found only 4% of children used protective wear; children reported extreme fatigue, chest pains, injuries, fever; using dangerous tools, verbal and physical abuse, poor working conditions (lack of clean water, sanitation or shelter). Girls working on sugarcane fields regularly experience SGBV and harassment, with no channels for reporting (Human Rights Watch 2021).

Not only is this work dangerous, it is also time-consuming: on average children spent 43 hours per week on work, with longer hours for girls than boys. This interferes with children’s education, health, social development and future opportunities. Busoga has one of the highest percentages of children involved in child labour, with a primary school dropout rate reaching as high as 91% (UBOS, 2017). This traps families in a cycle of poverty as generation after generation are forced to sacrifice their future prospects to support their families.

Our project

Starting in September 2023 until March 2026, we will be working with our partner Platform for Labour Action (PLA) in Uganda to protect children in over 12,000 families from child labour and support their families to be more resilient for the future. Following tried and tested methods, our activities will improve their families’ incomes, raise awareness in the community and offer victims of child labour the opportunity to learn vocational skills and seek legal justice. We will be working with rural communities in Busoga sub-region, Eastern Uganda (Iganga, Bugiri and Kaliro districts), where some of the worst child labour exists.

Our previous project, ‘Eradicating Child Labour in Kampala, Uganda,’ has seen huge successes with 2,826 families having taken positive steps to withdraw their children from labour and the number of child labour victims enrolled in school or vocational training has already exceeded the project end target of 1,000.

However, the work isn’t over. We want to use the lessons learnt from our previous project to replicate our approach in more sub-counties where child labour is prevalent. This follows many requests by key stakeholders in the target districts for PLA and Action on Poverty to scale up our work.

This project extends the previous project’s highly effective peer-to-peer approach but involves more engagement with local organisations to support our community champions in the longer term. The last project also did not include a remediation process to hold the businesses that most persistently exploited children accountable. We will therefore support victims of the worst forms of child labour to seek justice through legal aid.

What we’ll achieve

  • 1,000 children will have been withdrawn from child labour and supported into education or vocational training, with counselling to support their re-integration into society
  • Members of 1440 households will have acquired business and vocational skills to increase their resilience in the face of child labour
  • 7,200 community members will have been reached and supported by community champions with knowledge of child rights and how to prevent child labour; 112,000 people will have improved awareness on child rights and preventing all forms of child labour through media campaigns
  • 60 employers in rice and sugar cane farming will have adopted child labour free practices
  • 3 districts enacting locally tailored laws on child protection
  • 360 people directly benefiting from legal aid interventions