In Congo, some 40,000 children work in the cobalt mines*.

Thanks to Good Shepherd Kolwezi program 3,000 children have quit the mines to attend school.

*Unicef 2014 estimate

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Modern Slavery in Cobalt Mining

The incredible mining wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is worth an outstanding $24 trillion. The raw materials that power our digital future and green vehicles are extracted from these mines; like cobalt, an essential component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. More than 60% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from southern DRC, much of it from artisanal or small-scale mining. The living conditions of these artisanal miners in the largest cobalt mining area in the country are among the worst in the world. Women, girls and an estimated 40,000 children are forced to work in artisanal mines, in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, using rudimental tools and without any protective equipment. They work for less than a dollar a day, not enough to survive, while being denied their rights to protection, healthcare and education.

A Community Development Program

In 2012, the Good Shepherd Sisters, supported by the Good Shepherd International Foundation, started a program in DRC to assist these women, girls and children from artisanal mining communities of Domaine Marial, an isolated, impoverished and underserved cobalt mining area around the city of Kolwezi. Through this program we work to:

Eradicate child labor and strengthen child protection systems, providing access to their basic human rights such as education and healthcare

Provide sustainable alternative livelihoods and ensure food security to families

Eliminate gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls through economic and social empowerment

Improve communities cohesion and effective mobilization to lobby the government for an equitable distribution of resources and to increase the accountability of mining companies involved in the cobalt/battery supply chain

RESULTS

2990 +
children are protected, nourished and educated
80 %
of children enrolled in education project quit the mines
0
children reintegrated into the formal school system
448
girls trained to access decent jobs
0
women and girls gained skills for alternative livelihood and improve their income
89 %
of people in the Maisha Farm Coop have improved food security
0 %
of women no longer work in the mines

Project Activities

1. “Maisha Farm” Cooperative

1. “Maisha Farm” Cooperative

Thanks to the Maisha Farm coop, created by 47 project members, 118 families involved have improved their year-round food security. Currently, the farming yield covers 100% of their yearly subsistence needs. Moreover, 89% of the women who joined the cooperative quit the mines and some of them started individual revenue generating activities, such as selling vegetables, to improve the income of their family.

2. Girls and Women

2. Girls and Women

The skills training program enrolled 160 girls and 65 women. Each had been engaged in unsafe jobs in the mines; many were forced into commercial sexual exploitation there. The girls trained at the Economic Empowerment Center in competency-based tailoring skill development and in catering/food production now earn an income - an average $180 per month. Many now use their earnings to pay for their school exams. Furthermore, the project provides community sensitization activities on gender equity and women’s rights and offers family counselling and support to victims of abuse/violence.

3. Education and Child Protection project

3. Education and Child Protection project

The program provides children with access to informal education and 1 meal a day, leading to a malnutrition rate of less than 4%. Some 1,100 children (Orphans or Vulnerable and all engaged in different forms of work in the ASM) have been enrolled and 91% of them stopped working in mines as a result. A total of 193 children were reintegrated into the formal school system and are monitored to ensure continued participation. The Centre functions as a referral centre for abuses on children and women and has assisted in the prosecution of over 70 cases of violence, neglect, sexual abuse and early arranged and forced marriage. The Centre has worked intensely to prevent violence and human rights abuses within the community through education on child protection and positive parenting, counselling and psycho-social support to the families.

4. Civic strengthening and community mobilization

4. Civic strengthening and community mobilization

A solid group of 1,294 women, 625 girls and 7 men are regularly involved in human rights awareness raising, that includes advocacy work and lobbying the local Government and mining companies for better living conditions. The voices of women were broadcasted widely recently when they participated in a radio program promoting education and the end of child marriage. The lobbying effort with government officials has already produced results, including the installation of a new generator (benefitting 5,000 households), the construction of 5 schools (1,500 children) and the digging of a well (3,000 residents).

5. The new plan

5. The new plan

Until 2017 the project mainly focused on the mining community of Kanina, on the immediate outskirts of Kolwezi, serving more than 5,000 people. Thank to its positive and tangibile impact on the lives of hundreds of families and to its effective management system, the Good Shepherd program is now considered a good practice for eradication of child labour in the artisanal mining on a local and national level. After a preliminary research to better understand the needs of the families, in 2018 Good Shepherd (Bon Pasteur Kolwezi) will start a new 5-years plan aimed at extending the child protection model to 6 new artisanal mining communities within 30 km. from Kolwezi, involving about 23,000 people from Mukoma, Kapata, Musunoie, Kasulo, Kabamba, Katapula, where human rights of children, girls and women are systematically violated.

Media

A CBS News Investigation finds children mining cobalt in DR Congo

CBS reports on a life-changing to Ziki’s story, thanks to GS program

CNN discovers child labor in cobalt trade in DR Congo

Maisha: A New Life Outside the Mines

The Good Shepherd International Foundation produced the film ‘Maisha: A New Life Outside the Mines’ documenting the living conditions of the artisanal mining community in Kolwezi and the impact that this community development project is having. The film is currently available online and was shown at more than 10 film festivals and screenings throughout the world. It was awarded numerous honors, including Best Documentary Short Filmat the 12th Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona and  Best Ethnografic Filmat the Vaasa Festival 2016.

Watch the Film

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Resources

“Weaving the Web” - The GSS approach to Community-Based Development and Child Protection in Kolwezi, report by M. Canavera CPC Columbia University

Bon Pasteur Kolwezi Theory of Change  Strategic Plan 2018-2022

GSS Research on Violence and Abuse against Women, Girls and Children in Artisanal Mining Communities of the DRC

Help children get out of the mines

Your donation is an opportunity to greatly improve the lives of hundreds of children, women and their families

Support our projects in DR Congo

Select or fill in the amount of your donation

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Terms

Donation Total: $50.00

“It’s no fun going into the mine. But that work is finished for me now! Now I study. Now, I’m doing well. At school I learned that children have rights and that all children are born equal.”

Morgan, 8-years-old

Child Protection Program

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