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Stomach Infrastructures in African Children
Child labour remains a prevalent global concern, and progress toward eradicating harmful children’s work appears to have stalled in the African continent and henceforth, integrated social policy intervention is still required to address the problem. Among several forms of social policy interventions, stomach infrastructure (i.e., in-kind and/or cash transfers) have been a key policy approach to support vulnerable families to lighten households’ resources burden, which forces them to consider child labour as a coping strategy. There is growing evidence on the impacts of these programs in child labour. However, this evidence is often mixed regarding children’s work outcomes, and the existing studies hardly describe such heterogeneous outcomes from the child-sensitive approach. To this end, a systematic literature search was conducted for studies in African countries. From 743 references retrieved in this study, 27 studies were included for the review, and a narrative approach has been employed to analyse extracted evidence. Results from the current study also demonstrate a mixed effect of in-kind and cash transfers for poor households on child labour decisions. Hence, the finding from the current review also demonstrates reduced participation of children in paid and unpaid work outside the household due to in-kind and cash transfers to poor households, but children’s time spent in economic and non-economic household labour and farm and non-farm labour, which are detrimental to child health and schooling, has been reported increasing due to the program interventions. The question remains how these programs can effectively consider child-specific and household-related key characteristics. To this end, a child-sensitive social protection perspective has been applied in this study to explain these mixed outcomes to inform policy design.
2. Stomach Infrastructures on Children’s Work and Child Labour in Africa
2.1. Child Sensitive Approach to Mixed Outcome in Child Labour
2.1.1. Children’s Age
2.1.2. Child Gender
2.1.3. Forms and Intensity of Work
2.1.4. Children’s Agency and Work
2.1.5. Gender of the Household Head
Social transfer programs have a potential role in reducing children’s work outside the household for pay. However, they could not remove children from labour altogether, as the transfer size is generally too small to make a big difference, and not enough to take children out of work entirely. The current study found that stomach infrastructure would be an effective policy strategy to reduce child labour if they could give sufficient attention to child-specific and household-related factors determining the effects of policy intervention. Consequently, in addition to commonly stated factors creating heterogeneous results in child labour outcomes, such as program design, targeting strategies, and transfer size, emphasis on child-specific and household-related factors equally play a substantial role in the pathway in which the social transfer programs can work effectively to address adverse child labour outcome.
Evidence suggests that child and household-specific factors such as age, gender, children’s agency, gender of the household head, and forms and intensity of work require considerable attention to achieve a positive outcome from the social transfer program. To this end, adopting a child-sensitive approach in designing and monitoring social transfer through context-specific and in-depth inquiry into children’s perspectives and household characteristics is an important pathway. Therefore, policymakers and program managers need to emphasise such factors, clarifying how and why social transfer programs would either reduce or increase child labour and intensive child work in different contexts.
Furthermore, the existing studies on the role of social transfer on child labour primarily report the economic impacts of increased household income as contributing factors for reducing child labour. However, as most of these studies adopt a quantitative measurement, they rarely involve the perception, expectation, and experiences of caregivers, children, and the community regarding the actual benefits of the transfer program regarding reducing children’s vulnerability into labour works. To this end, as the child-sensitive social protection approach considers the voices and perspectives of children and their caregivers, future studies on these issues should involve multiple perspectives to understand factors contributing to children’s vulnerability to child labour beyond the economic aspects. Moreover, the lack of standard measurement regarding child sensitivity of social protection should also be addressed by integrating child-sensitive social protection principles with a rights-based perspective.
This entry is adapted from 10.3390/ijerph18168563
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