Zambian gov't launches new program to combat AIDS related child labor

LUSAKA, Apr 20, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - The Zambian government on Wednesday launched a new program aimed at combating HIV/AIDS induced child labor.

The three-year program will be implemented in conjunction with the International Labor Organization (ILO) through its International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) project.

"Child labor and HIV/AIDS are creating a vicious circle, both of which have been aggravating poverty in Zambia. Many of the HIV/ AIDS affected children enter into child labor and the program will try to cut this vicious circle toward the sustainable development and poverty eradication in Zambia," Louis Ndaba-Hagamye, the ILO director for Zambia said at the launch of the program.

The new program, he said, will make a difference in the situation of child labor in the southern African country by focusing on the deep causes of the problem in five areas.

These includes national strategy development, national capacity building, advocacy and social mobilization, policy-oriented research and survey as well as direct intervention to prevent and withdraw children from child labor.

"The program will particularly target street children, particularly who are involved in commercial sex exploitation, illicit work and informal labor sector.

According to statistics, about 600,000 children are working in Zambia and that a considerable portion of these have been affected or infected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

"The loss of both parents to HIV/AIDS has contributed to the rise in the number of child headed households in the country. This has prompted many such children to seek work in order to provide for the sustenance of their families," the ILO official said.

Zambia has been chosen the first country in the world for the pilot project whose outcome will be replicated in other parts of the world.

Zambian Minister of Health Brian Chituwo said the HIV/AIDS pandemic has compounded the challenges of reducing child labor in the country and added that the government will do "everything possible to make the program succeed."

"If child labor has to be eliminated from Zambia, we need to know where we are and where we want to be in a given time," he said.