In the bid to control the spread of Covid-19 cases in Uganda, the government took measures by closing schools and universities, and restricting people’s movements.
So far, the Covid-19 control measures imposed by the government have greatly increased cases of child labour in the peri-urban areas of Mukono district.
Children between the ages of six to fifteen years are pouring into major trading centers to get involved in vending merchandise in order to support their families.
Children are mostly seen in the towns of Kalagi, Kisoga, Nakifuma, Katosi, Seeta and Mukono town.
Families depend on income collected by their children from vending boiled maize, eggs, face masks and vegetables. It’s alleged that these children are being sent on the streets by their parents who are currently affected by the lockdown.
While child labour is outlawed in the country, many residents in most communities of Mukono district welcome the additional help from their children lending a hand in the vending of merchandise on the streets.
Nalumansi Alice, a resident of Nabuti village, narrated to us that she is unable to access Kampala due to travel restrictions. She used to run a refreshments business in the new park so she decided to venture in selling boiled eggs with her seven year old daughter in Mukono town.
“Although my child is not in school, she is really very resourceful during this time, mostly helping me in vending boiled eggs. I guide her on the risky time she is supposed to come back home, such that she doesn’t go to risky places,” Nalumansi said.
David Kiwalabye (14) vends electrical items. He explained to us that currently his parents are not working, they are seated at home and he decided to look for something to do to support the rest of the family.
“We are four children and staying in a rented house so I have to move out and work. When I get paid I buy some food items to sustain the family” Kiwalabye said.
On lake shores like Katosi, children joined fishing related activities like sorting and drying silverfish in order to earn a living in the current circumstances.
In areas like Basiima – Kikooza trading center in Mukono central division, it’s a daily routine for children to collect scrap and empty plastic bottles for a living. Not everyone supports their venture.
“It’s unfortunate that these kids are being exploited by their parents and other business people around town, they send them to collect scrap and pay them between Shs 1500 to Shs 2000,” said Angel Namusoke, a social worker.
Namusoke warned that such practices may increase child labor and harm young people’s education if they continue longer term.
“The danger is that once the (Covid-19) crisis is behind us, the risk of some of the children not going back to school becomes higher,” she told this website.
Kyamagwa Steven, a local leader in Mukono revealed that children who are victims to child labour are those from from orphanages in Mukono that are short food, and it’s the only way out.
“In the first lockdown the government provided food relief to many orphanages in Mukono, but this time round it didn’t. Now kids are escaping from these homes to earn a living by selling vegetables,” Kyamagwa noted.
President Museveni is expected to address the country on Saturday to communicate the way forward after the end of the 42 days of lockdown.
Many leaders and politicians like Joseph Kabuleta have been persistent in calling for government to lift the lockdown saying it has affected all facets of life.