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Plight of working children to be researched

[Zimbabwe] Farm settlement in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has the lowest Human Poverty Index ranking in Southern Africa (IRIN)

A new labour survey is set to highlight the situation of working children in Zimbabwe.

About 140 enumerators are currently engaged in a three-week National Labour Force Survey being conducted by the Central Statistical Office (CSO), with support from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). It is expected to cover more than 10,000 households in Zimbabwe's 10 provinces.

The survey will not only deal with the employment situation of adults, but also of children.

UNICEF and the CSO agree that the national survey will provide greater insight into the situation of working children by indicating how many are involved in economic activity, the type of labour they are engaged in, what conditions they work under, and whether these could be potentially dangerous to their physical and emotional development.

"We hope the information gathered during this survey will give us a better understanding of the problems faced by working children and, in turn, help us be better able to identify practical ways to minimise the risk to their physical, emotional and social well-being," said Dr Festo Kavishe, UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe.

Kavishe is hoping the information from the sample survey "will guide us in finding better ways to support households, especially vulnerable children, to cope without being forced into exploitative child labour", while researchers would like to paint a national picture of population characteristics such as education, activity status, employment, hours worked, income, work-related safety, and health and housing.

"It is important that we strengthen the quality of our research to reflect the evolving situation in Zimbabwe," said Lazarus Machirovi, director of the CSO. "With the largest segment of our population under the age of 18, not only do we have a moral responsibility to make sure they are accurately reflected in our work, but any research without their situation included would be incomplete."

According to a joint press release from UNICEF and the CSO, the 1999 National Child Labour Survey found that 26.3 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years were working.

Studies indicate that orphaned children in this group are much more at risk. As their parents fall progressively ill from HIV/AIDS the family becomes poorer and the children take on an increasing number of responsibilities. Desperate to earn a living, they are often forced to work in exploitative and dangerous conditions.

A UNICEF report, "Africa's Orphaned Generations", said a higher proportion of children in Sub-Saharan Africa were working than in any other region, where 29 percent of children aged 5 to 14 were economically active.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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