The Covid-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on income, health, and education worldwide. However, the impact on the life of individuals or communities varies greatly by country, type of employment and social standing. With this project, Helvetas commits to support people in Pakistan who are particularly affected, such as members of ethnic minorities, women and children, to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Project NameChild Welfare in Commercial Agriculture (CWCA)
FundingThe project is funded by donations.
Thematic focusHumanitarian Response
Rice transplanting communities are marginalized and among the economically most disadvantaged groups in the Pakistani society. Traditionally, women of these communities engage in the task of rice transplantation and childcare, while the men contribute to the household income through low-skills day to day jobs. The transplanting of rice takes place during the hottest time of the year. Besides extremely high temperatures, women are exposed to agrochemicals, insects and a high risk of injuries. As day care facilities are not accessible or not affordable for the families, the children accompany their mothers and are thereby exposed to the same kinds of hazards. In many cases, older children need to work alongside of their mothers on the fields.
Therefore, in 2019, the Child Welfare in Commercial Agriculture (CWCA) project was initiated to enhance the situation of children of rice transplanting communities by supporting improved working conditions and dignity for farm laborers through canopy kits, on farm childcare and first aid facilities as well as alternate arrangements for the children such as village level day care facilities. The parents’ awareness was developed regarding their children’s health and education, and first aid, health and hygiene trainings given. The project directly supported children’s educational opportunities by providing means to join school including necessary items and teaching aids to non-formal schools. However, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, all operations in the country, including public meetings and other social activities, were disrupted and educational institutions remained closed for almost a year. For the target group of the project, a situation of severe economic pressure developed. Many men lost their day jobs and household incomes dropped significantly, forcing children to contribute to the family income and therefore had to drop out of education.
For this reason, Helvetas, together with its partner "Rice Partners Limited" (RPL) and in coordination with the Non-Formal Basis Education Department, has developed this follow-up CWCA project to support rice farming communities and children to recover faster from the negative impact of the pandemic and to provide a healthy and child-friendly environment for their children.
Parents' awareness of field safety, health and the importance of education will be raised, and daycare centers will be made available during the rice growing season to minimize the risk to young children in the field. Non-Formal educational facilities for children from rice-transplanting communities will be equipped and vocational skills training opportunities for the youth provided to prepare them for the labor market. Summer camps and fun learning activities will be organized in formal and non-formal education settings to move children away from child labor and towards a safe educational environment in the long term. In addition, lessons learnt from the first project phase will be documented and advocacy efforts driven forward.
Rice Partners Limited (RPL) is a local miller based in the district of Sheikhupura, who is experienced in the implementation of development projects, who already partnered with Helvetas in the project’s first phase.