Is child labour a viable escape route from chronic poverty? the case of households in Tabaka Sub-Location, Gucha District.
This is a study about the characteristics of chronically poor households and children engagement in child labour in Tabaka Sub-Location, Gucha District. Specifically, the study investigates: the characteristics of chronically poor households; whether chronically poor households engage their children in child labour; and whether child labour is a viable escape route from chronic poverty in the rural areas which are mostly affected by this scourge. The study utilized the asset-based approach as a conceptual framework to analyze its findings. Assets such as vehicles, bicycles, posho mill, land, chairs, cupboards and tables among others are used so as to determine the asset ownership levels in the chronically poor households. Ownership of productive assets implies high productivity while inability to own such assets implies low assets productivity. The analysis of assets determines a household's status in terms of the poor and chronically poor households. Due to lack of productive assets ownership in the chronically poor households, the household heads opt for other social assets to augment the meagre family incomes. Quantitative pnmary data collection was obtained through household surveys administered through face to face interviews to the household heads through structured questionnaires. However, qualitative data collection was done through in-depth interviews of the selected key informants and focussed group discussion. Observation was also used to collect data mainly during the visits to the households when conducting the household data survey. This was to augment the general household characteristics given by the respondents. Secondary data was obtained from published books and journals and the internet. Statistical Programme for Social Science was employed to analyze the quantitative data while content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. The chronically poor households are not a homogeneous group but mainly refer to those who have stayed for significant period of time in poverty, in our case five years. The study findings reveal that the characteristics of chronically poor households are numerous. Most of the chronically poor households: were headed by uneducated household heads; have as their main occupation informal sector employment; have many children; suffer from an acute scarcity of household productive assets; have meagre household income; own very small parcels of land; and lack education. All the characteristics mean that they sink deeper into chronic poverty. Given that the chronically poor households exhibit an acute scarcity of productive assets and an abundance of children, they are left with limited choice but to encourage child labour in the absence of external interventions on their behalf. They, therefore, encourage child labour as a means of augmenting the meagre family income. Therefore, chronically poor households treat their children as assets. Child labour earnings are meagre. Just like their poor counterparts, child labour income in chronically poor households only serves to augment meager family income. This is because child labour income is inadequate to enable chronically poor households purchase productive assets that increase household income over time. It is, therefore, only used in the purchase of food items for consumption. It follows therefore that child labour does not seem to affect the chronically poor households in any specific manner. It is a tool available to the poor in general, and as such it does not provide a route from poverty. In line with the study findings, the study makes recommendations to address the issue of chronic poverty and child labour issues. However, addressing chronic poverty and child labour is a complex issue requiring multiple responses. The plight of children need to be addressed through: provision of free and compulsory education at all levels; policies to increase economic productivity especially in agriculture in order to avoid over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture; adoption of mechanized agriculture; policies to address productive assets ownership in the chronically poor households so as to earn income over time; policies to address economic growth and inclusion of the chronically poor in the development process.
CitationA Thesi submitted in part fulfilment for the Degree of Master of Arts ,University of Nairobi.