Pilares: Building the Capacity of Civil Society to Combat Child Labor and Improve Working Conditions in Colombia

Project Duration:
December 2017
December 2021
Funding and Year:

This project will build the capacity of civil society organizations to more effectively detect and combat child labor and unacceptable working conditions in artisanal and small-scale mines in Colombia. It will form networks of civil society organizations and empower local communities to build a grassroots movement to improve working conditions and reduce the risk that children will be used in this harmful work.

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The Problem

Most artisanal and small-scale gold mines (ASGM) in Colombia lack land titles and fail to comply with labor and mining regulations, such as occupational safety and health standards and use of child labor. Children in these mines face harsh working conditions that rob them of their childhoods. Some get injured breaking rocks, digging in the dirt with picks or lifting heavy loads. Many get sick from exposure to the mercury used in processing the gold, and few find opportunities to get an education or better their lives. While Colombia’s Integrated Registration and Information System for Child Labor reports 5,000 cases of children working in or near mines and quarries, there exists no accurate data on the extent of child labor due to the informality of this sector.

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Our Strategy

The project will increase the capacity of civil society organizations to address child labor and working conditions in ASGM. To achieve this, the project will  form networks of civil society organizations  (CSOs) in four municipalities of the Departments of Antioquia and Bolívar. These networks will pilot tools to detect, document and report cases of child labor and unacceptable working conditions, including in the gold mining supply chain. Better coordination will inform awareness-raising efforts, and will strengthen civil society’s participation and involvement in the implementation of policies to combat child labor and unacceptable working conditions in this sector. In addition, the project will work with civil society organizations and other actors to help develop process and solutions using Colombia’s roadmap to address child labor in mining communities developed under ILAB’s Somos Tesoro project.

View the Joining the Pilares project’s network video.

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As of October 2020, the Pilares project has:

  • Worked with 57 CSOs, including miners, women, afro-descendants, indigenous, youth, and other community organizations. The project works with:
  • Strengthened the capacity of CSOs to use technology and data; 
  • Formed three solidarity networks among CSOs to implement joint activities;
  • Helped three Interagency Committees for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor (CIETIs) to become operational;
  • Developed and piloted tools to identify risks of child labor and other unacceptable working conditions with CSOs and the Colombian government;  and 
  • Trained and raised awareness of child labor and unacceptable working conditions in ASGM, reaching out to more than 1,000 children, CSO members, and government officials.
Grantee: PACT
Implementing Partners: Alliance for Responsible Mining
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4843
Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)