In India, close to 100 million people are considered as seasonal migrant workers. These unorganized workers migrate along with their families from rural to urban locations in search of employment and livelihood. Although no clear data is available, estimate suggests that child migrants constitute approximately 10-15 million of the total population. Children accompanying their parents in the 0-14 year age group may constitute about one-third of the total migrant population. Among children in the 0-5 year age group, 85% migrate with their families. Children in the 6-14 year age group constitute nearly 6 million.
Children’s experience of poverty and vulnerability are multidimensional and differ from those of adults. Early years are critical for children’s development since the foundation for physical, motor, cognitive; language and psycho-social development are laid during the first five years of a child’s life. The under six have been a low priority age group on the assumption that they belong to the family, even though not all families are found to have the capacity to promote the development of their children.
India has an array of progressive legislation for protecting the rights of children. However, despite existence of multiple service provisions, there are still many children who could not access these provisions. Of the 158.7 million children in the below six years category (Census 2011), about 75.7 million children i.e. 48% are reported to be covered under the ICDS (MWCD, 2011). Among these children there are migrant children who also get deprived of basic services as they are mobile in nature.
As per a study conducted by MiRC, the Migration thematic unit of Aide et Action in collaboration with Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) in the worksites of seven cities of India in the year 2013, it was found that migrant children often live in a deplorable condition at worksites. As per the startling data revealed by the study, 90% migrant children do not access ICDS and Anganwadi services at worksites while 65% suffer from various communicable diseases. Also, 80% children do not have access to education and 40% work as child labour.
Since 2009, Aide et Action South Asia has been intensively working towards bringing the Right to Education into action for both inter-state and intra-state migrant children. Our migration programme primarily reaches out to the children of distress migrants who work in brick kilns and construction sites in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha,Tamil Nadu & Telangana.
Through our programmes we strive to provide early child care services and uninterrupted education to the migrant children. They focus on promoting cognitive learning and physical growth of children through development of child friendly materials and curriculum for the centres. Over the years, we were successful in mainstreaming the children of Child Care Learning Centres (CCLC) with anganwadi services and education back in their native villages.
As a sustainable plan, we were successful in forging collaboration with the facility owners, builders and their organizations through sensitization, education and persuasion for establishing and running CCLCs at worksites. Efforts were put to replicate the models of housing and child space at the worksite through collaborative endeavors. We have forged collaborative partnerships with local government functionaries like school teachers, ICDS officials, health officials, municipalities for linking the government services and entitlements for migrant families.
At the policy level, we were successful in drafting and sharing recommendations with the government, policymakers and facility owners for developing a framework for making migrant families and children access decent living conditions, basic services, child rights and entitlements at the worksites based on the evidence generated from the demonstration models at the worksites. National and sub-national consultations and workshops were organized to amplify the issues and provide solutions. We have also networked with state and national level child rights groups, academic institutions to voice the concerns of young migrants and find out policy solutions.
Migrant families & children
Rescued bonded labourers & children
Employers of Migrant labourers
Government Departments especially education, health and labor
Like-minded civil society organizations, institutions & experts
Our initiatives in addressing issues of migrants and migrant children received support from Bernard van Leer Foundation, SNCF, Google Foundation, Times Foundation. The programme is well received by various Government departments and benefitted from inter-state collaborations facilitated by AEA.
Reached out to 3,539 migrant children across 51 worksites in Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad
Provided access to education to 1,694 young migrants in government schools at their destination and reintegrated them back in school after return
Provided access to nutrition services to 3,201 young migrants, 274 pregnant & lactating mothers and 144 adolescent girls
Facilitated release of rehabilitation assistance to186 migrant bonded labourers
In our endeavor to promote decent living spaces for migrant families in the worksites, we have successfully demonstrated low-cost decent housing models which were accepted by the brick kiln owners.
In the year 2017, we have successfully linked 107 migrant bonded labour families with government housing scheme at the source area.
Mobilized Rs 8 million worth of support in kind from Government and business houses for well being of migrant families.
Facilitated a TEDx talk of an ex-bonded labour and leader of migrant bonded labour forum.
Based on our reachout and linkages developed through our work to provide access to rights and entitlements for migrant families, we have successfully demonstrated feasilibility of “portability“ of entitlements.
Our demand on “portability of entitlements” for migrant communities was one of the key recommendations to the Inter (Odisha, Tamil Nadu & erstwhile Andhra Pradesh)-ministerial task force which was duly acknowledged.
Success Story: Once in bondage now a successful farmer
Like any migrant, Samaru Kahakur thought that his living condition would improve if he left his village to work in a brick kiln. With a lot of hope, he migrated along with his family to work in a kiln in Andhra Pradesh. Once they reached the kiln, their hopes were shattered as they were forced to live in distressful conditions. Work-wise, the family was forced to toil round the clock. They were completely refrained from communicating with people outside the kiln and were subjected to physical violence.
This continued for several months until they were rescued by the government authorities who raided the worksite. The authorities registered them as bonded laborers as per the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 and repatriated them back to their village. Out of the 6 members of the family 5 members were registered under the said act. The family was provided with Rs 5,000 as an interim support and was left to suffer.
Aide et Action which has been relentlessly working on the rehabilitation of legally released bonded laborers came to know about the family’s plight and brought the case to the notice of Odisha government. Our team filed an application for the release of the balance rehabilitation assistance of Rs 95,000. After the intervention of Aide et Action, the district administration released the balance financial assistance. Following this, Aide et Action developed a comprehensive livelihood plan for them and the family was encouraged to purchase a piece of land and start vegetable farming. The hard-working family utilized this opportunity and within a couple of years, their family condition improved drastically.
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