The Child Labor Improvements in Bangladesh (CLIMB) project will build 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 will leverage 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 will be forced into this harmful work.
In Bangladesh, an estimated 10 percent of children aged 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 put their children to work to increase household incomes. 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 will leverage ILAB’s long history of engagement with the government of Bangladesh to direct attention and resources towards significantly reducing forced child labor and other labor abuses in the dried fish sector. CLIMB will work with the University of Chittagong to produce accurate, independent research on work conditions in the dried fish sector, which will help stakeholders understand the nature and consequences of the issue. This data will be fed into awareness raising initiatives, and will be used to strengthen civil society’s ability to advocate for government, employers and other key stakeholders understanding and enforcement of existing policies around the hazards involved in this sector.