HUNDREDS of thousands of Cambodian children rely on the most dangerous forms of child labour to support themselves, yet the daunting goal of ending domestic child labour by 2016 may be within reach, according to reports released this week.
Cambodia presented its plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016 during a global conference on the issue held in The Hague earlier this week, less than a year after becoming one of the first countries to endorse the goal.
The document underlines the challenges Cambodia faces in stopping an estimated 300,000 children – a figure some experts consider low – from working in occupations seen as among the most hazardous. But it also suggests Cambodia has made some initial strides.
A previous study noted it would take an estimated US$90 million over the next six years to fund efforts to end child labour by 2016, the report states.
“This study nonetheless implies that 2016 is a realistic and affordable [target] for Cambodia, given appropriate interventions,” the report states.
Authorities are already ahead of the game when it comes to reducing child labour, said MP Joseph, the chief technical adviser for the international programme on the elimination of child labour at the International Labour Organisation in Phnom Penh.
A global ILO report released this week urges countries and NGOs to refocus efforts to reduce child labour. By releasing its road map this week in The Hague, Cambodia has already taken an initial step, Joseph said.
“If you look at the [report’s] global recommendations and what we have done here, you will see that Cambodia has already started off on those recommendations in a very good way,” Joseph said. “Not that we are at the end of the tunnel, but we are well into the journey.”
Still, the ILO report warns that although child labour has continued to decline worldwide, the pace of this reduction has slowed. Roughly 215 million children remain trapped as child labourers, the report notes, including 115 million in hazardous occupations. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA