Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR), has commended the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the initiative to pioneer the Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) project in Ghana.
He said the Government has worked tirelessly over the years and still working to put up a defence to end the menace, hence their joy at the partnership between MELR and JICA, to garner support towards the fight against CLFZs in Ghana through the Child Labour Unit (CLU) of the Labour Department under Ministry.
Speaking at the Consultative Seminar for Development Partners in Accra, the Labour Minister expressed concern about the penchant for some foreigners and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) churned out huge figures on child labour in the cocoa-growing areas.
He revealed that recent statistics produced by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) showed that child labour data was relatively low as compared to those reported by foreign researchers though not ruling out the fact that child labour was prevalent in the country.
He cited the indictment of Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire in the United States Notch Report as examples that have serious implications on cocoa.
Mr Baffour Awuah explained that the current CLFZ initiative supported the ministry to come out with holistic data from all partners to help inform policy decisions, highlighting the new emerging trend of forced labour issues as the country scales upon the issues of Child Labour.
He added that forced labour was an issue of advanced criminality and urged all to report such matters to the labour ministry so that collectively, issues relating to the child labour menace could be eradicated and left as a legacy for generations to keep and follow through.
Ms Ozawa Maki, the representative from the JICA, Ghana Office, expressed appreciation to the Government, and the collaboration with the MELR, noting that the dissemination of the study result by JICA was to solicit the inputs from other donors so together they could accelerate the way forward.
Ms Maki also stated that no individual partner could succeed alone in addressing the child labour problem.
She said there was the need to build concerted efforts, synergies and collaboration on resource mobilisation, and where to channel resources and ultimately generate holistic national data on child labour to meet the global SDGs target 8.7 of reducing child labour to the barest minimum by 2025.
She reiterated JICA’s readiness to support the fight toward a child labour free Ghana and a child labour free world.
In all, there were 69 development partners including the World Bank, Verite’ Ghana, International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organization for Migration, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) among others.
By Angela Ayimbire, GNA