Pact and Microsoft expand fight against child labour in DR Congo mining
Pact and Microsoft Corp. have announced an expanded partnership to address child labor in mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Microsoft has made a new, three-year financial commitment to support Pact's work to address child labor in mining, and will build on the successful Watoto Inje ya Mungoti, Children Out of Mining, project.
Across DRC, it is estimated that over 10 million people rely on income from artisanal and small-scale mining, working in materials including tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold and cobalt.
While children under 18 cannot legally work in the mines, the law is not widely observed for several economic and societal reasons. As a result, many children start working in mines at a very young age.
Pact and Microsoft have been working to change this reality through the Children Out of Mining pilot project in Katanga since 2015.
The project uses interventions that are deeply embedded in communities and local institutions to address the economic and social root causes that lead to child labor in mining.
In mines where the project has been active, Pact has found a reduction in child labor between 77 percent and 97 percent over the course of the project to date, with variation influenced by seasonal factors such as the influx of new conflict-displaced families, among others.
"Microsoft was one of our first partners on this important issue. Its seed funding helped us achieve groundbreaking progress in the first two years of work," said Yves Bawa, Pact country director for DRC, Rwanda and Burundi.
As part of the expansion, Pact and Microsoft will provide more direct support to children and adolescents and the local organizations that assist them.
Activities will include developing an apprenticeship program for older adolescents, improving the capacity of local orphanages, assessing state child protection and welfare services, and supporting home-based daycare for younger children of miners.
This builds on the existing program, which has created protective environments for children in areas associated with artisanal mining.
"There is no place for child labor in the mining supply chain," said Joan Krajewski, general manager of Safety, Compliance and Sustainability at Microsoft. "By expanding and deepening Microsoft's partnership with Pact, we can make meaningful progress toward addressing the worst forms of child labor. Already, we've seen the difference these programs can make, and hope that our investment will encourage others to join in these scalable, replicable efforts."
This latest commitment builds on both organizations' long history of promoting responsible sourcing of raw materials. Microsoft has been working directly with suppliers and through NGOs like Pact with the goal of eradicating child labor in the mining supply chain, with a particular focus on tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold and cobalt.
This commitment is a fundamental part of Microsoft's holistic and multifaceted approach to promote safe, ethical working conditions to the farthest reaches of its supply chains.
Pact has been working for more than 10 years in Congo's mining communities to address systemic changes needed to improve the lives of artisanal miners and their families on a range of issues, including child labor.
Pact's Mines to Markets program currently works in 10 countries assisting resource-dependent communities to gain lasting benefits from the more sustainable use of their natural resources.
Utilizing a unique integrated approach, Pact's work links mining to livelihoods, governance, health, the environment, and strengthening of local, regional and national institutions.