Blood Bricks: How Nepal Plans to Break the Mold of Child Labor to Rebuild the Country
By admin June 13, 2016


After Nepal’s devastating earthquake in 2015, the country is in the process of rebuilding its foundation. However, with economic downturn and many displaced children resulting from the earthquake, child labor is rampant in Nepal’s brick kilns. Now, focus is being placed on rebuilding not only the nation’s economy, but doing so in the most ethical way possible.

Nepal has close to 1.6 million children between the ages of 5 to 17 in the workforce with little to no regulation or safety guidelines, according to Nepal Child Labour Report. Working in brick kilns is one of the leading industries in which children have been employed. Despite the country’s efforts, child labor remains rampant due to the high-levels of poverty and low-levels of education. In addition, the intersection of oppression exacerbates the issue making the situation worst for Nepal’s girls, who already have to bear the biggest burden at home and at the fields. Nepal’s government is committed to tackling this issue and has made policies to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016 and all forms of child labor by 2020.

International and local activists are now urging for a new Nepal built without the use of child labor. Not only is brick making a gruelling job for a child, it also poses several health hazards that may stunt or damage a child’s development. Better Brick Nepal is an organization set up by local activist Homraj Archaya, which aims to form partnerships with brick kilns and help them move away from utilizing child labor in the most effective way possible. The response from the community has been largely positive with over a 100 kilns that applied to be part of the organization, however currently they do not have the capacity to accommodate them all. Archaya has received significant positive attention and support from international development organizations and hopes to expand his movement until all kilns are childfree. This task is made all the more difficult by the increased poverty in the nation.

Most children working at the kilns are not forced to do so, neither by the parents nor the brick makers. Their economic circumstances have forced them to assist their families by earning the little wages they can wherever they can find work- and currently, the brick business is in full swing. Slowly but surely, children’s rights activists and local police are rescuing children and being placed in shelters specifically for child laborers. These shelters not only clothe and home the children but also have a schooling programme, ensuring each child is having the best quality of life possible. With the aid of international development organizations and local advocates like Archaya, there is hope of curbing child labor levels in Nepal after all.

For more information:

Nepal’s earthquake: push to rebuild without the hand of child labor

United States Department of Labor: Bureau of International Labor Affairs

Aid money for development project in Nepal linked to child labour

Worst forms of child labour: The Himalayan Times

CNN: Nepal’s Child Labor

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