By Cuthbert Otim
Soroti district in eastern Uganda is choked with increasing numbers of child labour related cases.
Whereas Section 8 of Uganda’s Children Act Cap, 2000 states that no child shall be employed or engaged in any activity that may be harmful to his or her health, education or mental, physical or moral development, stone quarrying is one of the main economic activities employing hundreds of households in Soroti district, children inclusive.
According to Amos Oluka, the Senior Probation Officer Soroti District, the district is overwhelmed with children’s burden of child labour cases mostly in quarrying areas.
Oluka revealed to this website that Sorori district has registered 91 cases of child labour with hundreds unreported.
It’s estimated that about 14% of children in Soroti work in quarrying areas like Oculoi and Opiyai rocks in Soroti city among others.
While citing Oculoi rock quarrying site, Oluka noted that over 312 children are exploited.
“Most parents and guardians culturally believe that, through over working their children they contribute towards family development economically and is not a punishment.” Oluka said.
“With the number of children involved in child labour activities increasing, it has led to an increase in primary and secondary school dropouts and lowered rates of school enrolments,” noted Oluka.
He added that several children that are exploited in mining sites face health hazards which are detrimental to their livelihood and may at times lead to death
Relatedly, in Abella rock, in Katakwi over 200 children (120 male, 80 female) are victims of child labour.
Geoffrey Omollo, the LCV elect Katakwi district says most children are forced to work due to poverty as children often work to supplement their family income.
While it may be said that it is universally accepted that poverty is one of the most compelling reasons why children go to work, legal scholarship and country studies show that child labour is a product of a complex web of factors that go deep into the economic and social arena, along with lack of enforcement of anti-child labour laws.