Reducing Child Labor in Colombia

Project Duration:
September 2013
May 2019
Funding and Year:

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The Problem

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. 

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Our Strategy

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.

Intermediate Objectives:

  1. 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.
  2. Target households with reduced socioeconomic vulnerability.
  3. Target departments and municipalities with mechanisms for child protection and prevention of child labor in mining.
  4. Institutional mechanisms in place which contribute to the elimination of child labor in mining.
  5. 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. 

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As of September 30, 2017, the Somos Tesoro project has provided educational services to 13,003 children and livelihood services to 4,312 households vulnerable to child labor. 

Grantee: Private Agencies Collaborating Together (PACT) Incorporated
Implementing Partners: and Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez (FA), Fundación Alianza por la Minería Responsable (ARM), Fundación Mi Sangre (FMS)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4843
Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)