The Covid-19 pandemic may threaten Nepal’s efforts against child labour: UN

A child labourer works at a small metal shop with little training and no safety gears in Kathmandu on April 23, 2011. ©ILO/Pradip Shakya

Kathmandu, June 12

Two United Nations agencies actively working to eradicate child labour in the world–the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)–have warned the Covid-19 pandemic may threaten Nepal’s progress in eradicating child labour.

In a press statement issued on the eve of the World Day against Child Labour, the agencies issued the warning.

“According to the rapid Child and Family Tracker survey carried out in late May, over 50 per cent of families across Nepal have lost jobs and related livelihoods in the current context,” said Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative in Nepal. “Increased economic hardship combined with school closures caused by Covid-19 place children already in child labour at increased risk of working longer hours or under worsening conditions, while many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour due to job and income losses among vulnerable families.”

The UN official said the success in combatting the Covid-19 crisis should be measured in the number of families supported through these dire circumstances and the girls and boys who can continue to strive, grow and develop. “This is not out of reach – It can be achieved through our collective investment in programmes that not only get children out of the workforce and back into school but also social work and social protection programmes that can help families avoid making this choice in the first place.”

Nonetheless, the statement maintains the Nepal Child Labour Report 2021, a joint publication of the ILO and Central Bureau of Statistics, shows a declining trend of overall child labour in Nepal, reaching 1.1 million in 2018 from 1.6 million in 2008. A significant decline is observed in the number of children in hazardous occupations (0.62 million in 2008 to 0.22 million in 2018).

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