The Child Labor Improvements in Bangladesh (CLIMB) project built the capacity of civil society to more effectively detect and combat forced child labor and other labor abuses in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh. It leveraged partnerships with academic and community-based organizations to build a grassroots movement, empower vulnerable families, connect survivors to services and reduce the risk that children would be forced into this harmful work.
In Bangladesh, an estimated 10 percent of children ages 5–14 engage in child labor. Forty-five percent of these children work in the agriculture sector, with several in situations of forced labor. Within agriculture, the high-demand dried fish sector is plagued by some of the worst forms of child labor. Poverty and cycles of indebtedness drive parents to send their children to work to increase household income. Children are attractive to employers because they are thought to work faster and are considered better able to climb and place fish on bamboo racks. These children face harsh working conditions that rob them of their childhoods. Many get sick from exposure to the chemicals used in drying the fish, and few find opportunities to get an education or better their lives.
CLIMB leveraged ILAB’s long history of engagement with the government of Bangladesh to direct attention and resources toward significantly reducing forced child labor and other labor abuses in the dried fish sector. The project worked in partnership with five local civil society organizations to strengthen their capacity to counter child labor and forced child labor in the dried fish sector. The project improved the capacity of these civil society organizations to:
- Identify and document accurate, timely and user-friendly information on the nature and scope of child labor, forced child labor and unacceptable conditions of work for children in the dried fish sector;
- Raise awareness and advocate for the protection of children from child labor, forced child labor, and unacceptable conditions of work in the dried fish sector; and
- Facilitate access to emergency services, livelihood services, grievance mechanisms and remedy for victims of labor exploitation in the dried fish sector.
- The project built the capacity of its five partner civil society organizations to counter child labor and forced child labor. Their capacity was strengthened by an average of 37.8 percent on their capacity assessments from baseline (before the project started) to end line (when the project ended).
- The project increased the knowledge base on child labor in the dried fish sector through the publication and dissemination of the Comprehensive Mixed Method Research Report on the Child Labor Situation in the Dried Fish Sector in Cox’s Bazar.
- The project’s advocacy work helped spur the mobilization of the National Child Labour Welfare Council and the National Plan of Action. The project’s advocacy campaigns also contributed to the dried fish sector being added to the Government of Bangladesh’s list of hazardous child labor sectors.
- The project helped create an Information Service Center that resulted in 954 individuals being referred for services and the resolution of 31 reported grievance cases.
- The project helped reduce vulnerability posed by COVID-19 through the provision of emergency COVID-19 relief to 500 of the most vulnerable families in the dried fish sector. The project also reduced vulnerability by providing alternative livelihood training and livelihood starter kits to 240 individuals.
Bangladesh Center for Communication Programs, Alliance for Cooperation and Legal Aid Bangladesh, and Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), Integrated Community and Industrial Development Initiative, Sustainable Upliftment Initiative Trust, The University of Chittagong