Madagascar Shines: Reducing Child Labor in Mica-Producing Communities of Madagascar
The Madagascar Shines project aims to reduce child labor in mica-producing communities in the Anôsy region of Madagascar through community engagement, coordination, and capacity building.
Madagascar is the largest exporter of sheet mica, with 87% of Madagascar’s mica exported to China. Once imported, Chinese mica manufacturing companies produce high-quality mica products for the global electronics and automobile industries, many of which are exported to the U.S. market.
An estimated 10,000 children work in mica production in Madagascar. The mica sector’s informality, with poor regulation and labor law enforcement, has led to widespread labor exploitation of children. Boys typically work underground digging and extracting the ore, while girls haul and process the mica adjacent to the mine sites and are often pressured by the mica collectors for paid sex. Many children develop respiratory problems from the exposure to mica dust particles or face muscle and back pain from carrying heavy loads. Some children suffocate due to a lack of oxygen while mining underground.
The mica mining takes place in impoverished southern Madagascar, primarily in the Anôsy region, where there is an ongoing drought and famine-like conditions. The Anôsy region’s poverty rate is 96.7%. The drought and COVID-19 pandemic have severely affected agricultural harvests in the region and raised the cost of staple foods. The price of mica has also dropped due to the pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain, lower mining families’ incomes. Under these difficult conditions, vulnerable families lack a pathway out of poverty and see child labor in mica mining as a necessary means to offset their food insecurity and to survive.
The Madagascar Shines project aims to reduce child labor in mica-producing communities in Madagascar by:
- Bolstering resiliency of households in mica-producing communities by providing early childhood, educational, and livelihood services, improving community health services, and identifying and responding to cases of child labor with social service support to children and families;
- Increasing the capacity of government officials at the regional and local levels to establish a code of conduct for mica mining, to improve Madagascar’s child protection system, and coordinate child protection measures in the mica supply chain;
- Supporting civil society organizations and the media to raise public awareness of child labor in the mica supply chain; and
- Building the capacity of the Industrial Minerals Exporters Association of Madagascar to promote formalization, design a system to trace mica through the supply chain in Madagascar to ensure that it is not produced with child labor, and lead the development of corporate social responsibility initiatives to promote sustainably child labor-free mica.
- The project will target approximately 1,800 children for direct educational services and 2,200 adults for livelihood services.
Andry Lalana Tohana (ALT) and Association des Exportateurs des Pierres Industrielles de Madagascar/, Industrial Minerals Exporters Association of Madagascar (AEPI)