3 November 2017: Five countries are participating in an International Labor Organization (ILO) project on decent work in the cotton industry, and their work plans will be implemented beginning in early 2018. In each country (Mali, Mozambique, Paraguay, Peru and Tanzania), project teams worked with governments and workers’ and employers’ representatives to define the activities of the project.The ILO describes the initiative as “a unique South-South Trilateral cooperation project” that draws on the experience of the ILO as well as Brazil, which the ILO reports has made “huge strides in the sector in recent years.” The project is executed by the ILO in partnership with the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) and the Brazilian Cotton Institute (IBA).
The initiative aims to improve the working conditions of workers and cotton producers in the five programme countries through the systematization, sharing and adaptation of relevant Brazilian experiences. Areas of focus include: poverty reduction; productive inclusion; prevention and eradication of child labor and forced labor; promotion of youth employment; combating discrimination; and promoting gender and social dialogue.
In Mozambique, more than 1.5 million people depend on cotton for their income, as 90% of Mozambique’s cotton production is made by family farmers in small units. Some of the main issues ILO identified and plans to address through the Cotton with Decent Work Project are: the absence of vocational training; child labor; informality; lack of access to social protection; and non-compliance with safety and health standards at work.
In Peru, Cotton with Decent Work aims to address the high rates of informality, low productivity and poor working conditions, as well as lack of access social protection and vocational training. The project will focus on professional training, safety and health at work, and eradication of child labor. The ILO reports that 99.5% of the Peruvian cotton production is concentrated in small family production units, which are characterized by high poverty, low income, lack of access to social protection and use of child labor.
ANA MARIA LEBADA
Thematic Expert for 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Romania)
10 November 2017