Child Labour Rife Among San Children

A COMPREHENSIVE report on the plight of the San community in Namibia has revealed the prevalence of child labour in many communities.

The 650-page report titled ‘San in Namibia Two Decades After Independence’ which was released earlier this week by the Legal Assistance Centre and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, revealed that the marginalisation of the San is reflected in their poverty and food insecurity, lack of access to land and natural resources, a lack of education, lack of access to services, discrimination and limited political representation.

The report highlights the fact that despite efforts by government to ameliorate their status, the group still experiences serious marginalisation and various economic challenges. Among these challenges, the report reveals, is the issue of child labour.

According to the report, the !Xun and Haiom communities who participated in discussion-based research across six sites in Ohangwena considered child labour to be an acceptable source of income.

“None of the San parents who participated in the research discussions expressed any concern about their children doing such work, in fact, all of them welcomed the option of child labour as it contributed to their families’ well-being,” the report states.

The report reveals that Kwanyama households use San children to look after cattle or to do other types of manual piecework and paid either the children directly or their parents.

The report further reveals that as a result of food insecurity in some communities, especially areas such as Ekoka, the San resort to drinking otombo (home brewed traditional beer).

“Children who did not go to school and accompanied their parents to cuca shops during the day are given otombo brew when they feel hungry, as food is unavailable at cuca shops,” said the report.

The report states that drinking otombo is regarded as a substitute for eating with some community members describing it as “engine oil” and that they could not survive without consuming it for a day.

“Although increasing numbers of Kwanyama people also frequent the cuca shops, the vicious circle of poverty and otombo consumption seems to be worse among San people than other ethnic groups in Ohangwena,” says the report.

It also states that this consumption of alcohol could be interpreted as one of the San’s strategies of coping with food shortages.

The report, with research being conducted in all the regions from as far back as 2010-2013, seeks to reassess the situation of the San from the time of the last assessment report 10 years ago.

Source : The Namibian