Re-thinking the child labor “problem” in rural sub-Saharan Africa

the case of Sierra Leone’s “half shovels”

Roy Maconachie, Gavin Hilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article contributes to evolving debates on Sierra Leone’s post-war “crisis of youth” by providing an extended analysis of the role that young boys and girls assume in negotiating household poverty and enhancing their livelihood opportunities in small-scale mining communities. Child miners – or “half shovels” as they are locally known – are both directly and indirectly involved in small-scale gold extraction in Kono District, Sierra Leone’s main diamond-producing area. But the implications of their involvement are often far more nuanced and complex than international children’s rights advocates understand them to be. Drawing upon recent fieldwork carried out in and around the Kono mining village of Bandafayie, the article argues that children’s participation in the rural economy not only generates much-needed household income, but in many cases is the only way in which they can earn the monies needed to attend school. A blind and uncritical acceptance of international codes and agreements on child labor could have an adverse impact on children and, by extension, poor communities in rural Sierra Leone. Western notions of “progress” and development, as encapsulated in the post-conflict reconstruction programing of international NGOs and donor organizations, often do not match up with the complex realities or competing visions of local people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-147
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Development
Volume78
Early online date28 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • "crisis of youth"
  • child labor
  • artisanal and small-scale mining
  • livelihoods
  • poverty
  • Sierra Leone

Cite this

Re-thinking the child labor “problem” in rural sub-Saharan Africa : the case of Sierra Leone’s “half shovels”. / Maconachie, Roy; Hilson, Gavin.

In: World Development, Vol. 78, 01.02.2016, p. 136-147.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{5581094ba44f4aef8a6aa186ba3fc2f8,
title = "Re-thinking the child labor “problem” in rural sub-Saharan Africa: the case of Sierra Leone’s “half shovels”",
abstract = "This article contributes to evolving debates on Sierra Leone’s post-war “crisis of youth” by providing an extended analysis of the role that young boys and girls assume in negotiating household poverty and enhancing their livelihood opportunities in small-scale mining communities. Child miners – or “half shovels” as they are locally known – are both directly and indirectly involved in small-scale gold extraction in Kono District, Sierra Leone’s main diamond-producing area. But the implications of their involvement are often far more nuanced and complex than international children’s rights advocates understand them to be. Drawing upon recent fieldwork carried out in and around the Kono mining village of Bandafayie, the article argues that children’s participation in the rural economy not only generates much-needed household income, but in many cases is the only way in which they can earn the monies needed to attend school. A blind and uncritical acceptance of international codes and agreements on child labor could have an adverse impact on children and, by extension, poor communities in rural Sierra Leone. Western notions of “progress” and development, as encapsulated in the post-conflict reconstruction programing of international NGOs and donor organizations, often do not match up with the complex realities or competing visions of local people.",
keywords = "{"}crisis of youth{"}, child labor, artisanal and small-scale mining, livelihoods, poverty, Sierra Leone",
author = "Roy Maconachie and Gavin Hilson",
year = "2016",
month = "2",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.10.012",
language = "English",
volume = "78",
pages = "136--147",
journal = "World Development",
issn = "0305-750X",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Re-thinking the child labor “problem” in rural sub-Saharan Africa

T2 - the case of Sierra Leone’s “half shovels”

AU - Maconachie, Roy

AU - Hilson, Gavin

PY - 2016/2/1

Y1 - 2016/2/1

N2 - This article contributes to evolving debates on Sierra Leone’s post-war “crisis of youth” by providing an extended analysis of the role that young boys and girls assume in negotiating household poverty and enhancing their livelihood opportunities in small-scale mining communities. Child miners – or “half shovels” as they are locally known – are both directly and indirectly involved in small-scale gold extraction in Kono District, Sierra Leone’s main diamond-producing area. But the implications of their involvement are often far more nuanced and complex than international children’s rights advocates understand them to be. Drawing upon recent fieldwork carried out in and around the Kono mining village of Bandafayie, the article argues that children’s participation in the rural economy not only generates much-needed household income, but in many cases is the only way in which they can earn the monies needed to attend school. A blind and uncritical acceptance of international codes and agreements on child labor could have an adverse impact on children and, by extension, poor communities in rural Sierra Leone. Western notions of “progress” and development, as encapsulated in the post-conflict reconstruction programing of international NGOs and donor organizations, often do not match up with the complex realities or competing visions of local people.

AB - This article contributes to evolving debates on Sierra Leone’s post-war “crisis of youth” by providing an extended analysis of the role that young boys and girls assume in negotiating household poverty and enhancing their livelihood opportunities in small-scale mining communities. Child miners – or “half shovels” as they are locally known – are both directly and indirectly involved in small-scale gold extraction in Kono District, Sierra Leone’s main diamond-producing area. But the implications of their involvement are often far more nuanced and complex than international children’s rights advocates understand them to be. Drawing upon recent fieldwork carried out in and around the Kono mining village of Bandafayie, the article argues that children’s participation in the rural economy not only generates much-needed household income, but in many cases is the only way in which they can earn the monies needed to attend school. A blind and uncritical acceptance of international codes and agreements on child labor could have an adverse impact on children and, by extension, poor communities in rural Sierra Leone. Western notions of “progress” and development, as encapsulated in the post-conflict reconstruction programing of international NGOs and donor organizations, often do not match up with the complex realities or competing visions of local people.

KW - "crisis of youth"

KW - child labor

KW - artisanal and small-scale mining

KW - livelihoods

KW - poverty

KW - Sierra Leone

U2 - 10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.10.012

DO - 10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.10.012

M3 - Article

VL - 78

SP - 136

EP - 147

JO - World Development

JF - World Development

SN - 0305-750X

ER -