Somos Tesoro (We Are a Treasure): Project to Reduce Child Labor in Colombia
Children in Colombia are engaged in child labor in the artisanal, non-formal coal and gold mining sectors. These children break rocks, dig in the dirt with picks or their bare hands, remove water from mines, and lift heavy loads. They work long hours and are exposed to dangerous tools, hazardous substances, toxic gases, explosives, chemicals such as mercury, and they suffer physical injuries and mutilations. The 2010-2011 mining census identified 14,357 mining sites in Colombia, 63 percent of which are mined without a title and 72 percent fail to comply with mining regulations, such as occupational safety and health (OSH) standards. Miners, including female miners, often lack contracts and are paid in cash as day laborers. The majority are illiterate or have only a primary education. More than 2.5 million poor or extremely poor people live in mining areas.
Reduction in the number of children and adolescents (5-17 years old) involved in child labor, with a focus on child labor in mining, in target mining municipalities of the Departments of Antioquia and Boyacá, Colombia.
- Artisanal and small-scale mining activity that complies with occupational health and mining safety standards to reduce risks that lead to accidents or sicknesses, as well as other steps to mine formalization.
- Target households with reduced socioeconomic vulnerability.
- Target departments and municipalities with mechanisms for child protection and prevention of child labor in mining.
- Institutional mechanisms in place which contribute to the elimination of child labor in mining.
- Children and adolescents at risk of or engaged in child labor with increased opportunities to access quality education
Project activities include:
- Providing technical assistance to ASM miners to comply with mine formalization requirements.
- Training relevant government officials to identify and address child labor and OSH violations in mining.
- Raising awareness of OSH and child labor by targeting children, youth, households, and miners.
- Providing livelihood services with a focus on female miners.
- Providing educational services using the Pazalobien methodology, an educational model that combines artistic activities, creative thinking, and life skills while creating protective environments for children.
- Implementing an exchange program with the municipality of Santa Filomena (Peru) to learn about successful child-labor eradication experiences through ASM formalization.
- Developing and piloting a technical annex to the National Strategy to Prevent and Eradicate the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Protect Youth Workers to address child labor in mining.
The Somos Tesoro project will target children and households vulnerable to child labor in eight municipalities in the Departments of Antioquia and Boyacá, which produce gold and coal respectively. The Somos Tesoro project will provide direct educational services to 13,000 children and adolescents, and offer direct livelihood services to 3,500 households, including households with female miners.
Project outcomes include:
- Provision of technical assistance to more than 2,500 ASM miners to comply with mine formalization requirements.
- Working with 76 ASM mine sites to comply with labor and environmental standards.
- With the Colombian Ministry of Labor, development and implementation of guidance for ASM to implement OSH standards.
- Carrying out an online course for ASM miners and mining professionals on OSH standards for ASM.
- Development of practical tools for ASM miners on mine formalization and the elimination of child labor in mining and the use of mercury.
- Partnership with the Colombian government to design and implement Colombia’s roadmap to address child labor in mining at the local level (La Ruta) as part of the National Plan to Prevent and Eradicate Child Labor and Protect the Adolescent Worker (2019–2029).
- Teaming up with the Colombian government to help more than 1,000 local government officials across Colombia to implement La Ruta.
- Carrying out innovative awareness-raising campaigns of OSH and child labor tailored to children, youth, households, and miners. This included Cojan Oficio (Take Responsibility), a national campaign to prevent child labor.
- Supporting 42 enterprise-driven development initiatives, with a focus on female heads of households.
- Implementation of the Pazalobien methodology, an educational model that combines artistic activities, creative thinking, and life skills while creating protective environments for children.
- Publication of research on the role of women in ASM and perceptions of child labor in mining communities.
- Publication of the results of prevalence surveys in targeted municipalities.
- Piloting the Code of Risk-mitigation for ASM Engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT code).
- Development of two partnerships with the private sector to address child labor and formalize ASM in Paipa (Boyacá) and San Roque
- As of March 4, 2020, the Somos Tesoro project has provided educational services to 13,750 children and livelihood services to 4,312 households vulnerable to child labor.