Human Right

Burundi: Children engage in child labor due to poverty and ignorance

Children in Burundi are involved in different forms of child labor. The testimonies of some of them and the reaction of a researcher who has conducted a study on child labor highlight a level of poverty and ignorance as the main causes of child labor in the country.

Children selling snacks at Buyenzi City Market

Children selling snacks at Buyenzi City Market

It is 10 AM, at Bujumbura city market commonly known as “kwa Siyoni”. There is a pedestrian traffic of buyers and sellers. Among them, there are children who are selling donuts and other snacks, packaging and those who are waiting for people who come to buy things to help carry them and in return be paid a BIF 500 or less.

Vital Yamuremye, 14, is selling snacks. He is from Kayanza province. He dropped out because his mother was no longer able to buy school materials for him. “When I lost my father last year, I could not go on studying. I came in Bujumbura to seek for a job so as to help my mother raise my junior siblings,” he says.

Cédric Mpawenimana, 14, came from Gitega and is selling water. He says his family is extremely poor and this pushed him to abandon school. “I could not continue studying without anything to eat. I came in Bujumbura to look for some money-generating activities. This is how I found myself selling water in this market,” he says.

Salomon Nsabimana, lecturer at the University of Burundi and researcher at Burundi Institute of Economic Development – IDEC says children engage in child labor because of poverty or the environment. “Most of the children who engage in child labor escape poverty in their families. There are others who drop out school because they lack good examples to follow in their families.

Mr Nsabimana also says the research done by Burundi Institute of Statistics and Economic studies- ISTEEBU, reveals that children in rural areas are likely to suffer from child labor than children in town.

This researcher calls on decision makers and their partners to work together so as to put an end child labor.

“The government, its partners and all activists defending children’s rights have to act together so as to tackle this growing problem. There is a need to reinforce the policy of free schooling and most of all to carry out an in-depth study of the situation in different regions in order to deduce the causes and consequences of child labor,” he says.

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