To mark the Day of the African Child on June 16, Plan International in Burkina Faso called for an end to children being forced to work in gold mines.
In the Bam province, children’s rights are being challenged as the number of gold mines increase. In fact, Burkina Faso is the fastest-growing gold producer in Africa and was the fourth largest gold producer in Africa in 2012.
Working means children aren’t able to go to school as they are supporting their families instead. Plan is committed to finding solutions so children can enhance their skills to find other ways to support themselves, including going back to school. So far, 200 young men and women have been invited to take part in different training sessions, such as breeding, agriculture, metal soldering, and sewing projects.
“We may not be facing crisis or war situations, but considering the situation of artisanal mining, there is a lot to do to protect children who live in the Bam province,” said Plan’s program support manager. “In the artisanal gold site, there are children of all ages working. Some sell water, others break and grind stones without protection, while [still] others plough the earth. Children are even found in the pits, where girls sell drinks and small goods, while many of them are reported to have been forced into sex trafficking.”
Amado, president of the children’s parliament, is hopeful that Plan’s work will enable children to realize their rights and reduce the number working in gold mines.
“We want a world that respects children’s rights, which is what will make the world worthwhile for all,” he said.