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Dr Tatek Abebe
Associate Professor
Coordinator, Nordic Network of African Childhood and Youth Research
Norwegian Centre fo...
 Perspectives on children’s work
 Exemplify the “infantilization” of social
reproduction
 Explore what the political ec...
 Historicize children’s work in
wider social transformations that
shape community livelihood
trajectories
 Explore child...
 Participatory
approaches to explore
what children do,
where, with whom,
how and what they
think about it
 «My day»:
 «...
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 9 Regions
Southern Regional State; Gedeo Zone – high population density; cash eco...
coffee chat fruits
enset
 Imperial regime
 Ethiopia’s integration into the world economy
 Socialist regime
 Farmers cooperatives
 Centralized ...
 Global restructuring of coffee market
 Collapse of International Coffee Association 1989
 Sturctural Adjustment Progra...
 Disempowerment, coffee and chat took land away
from enset, “women's crop”
 Altered age- and gender-based divisions of l...
Harnessing the ‘agro-
forestry’ system
Trade and off-farm
activities
Apr-May
(planting)
June-Aug
(growing)
Sep-Dec
(harvesting)
Jan-Mar
(land
preparation)
 subsistence farming involving
food...
Young care-
giving activities
Examples
Domestic chores Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, sweeping floor,
fetc...
 The deepening and transference to children of the
burden of daily and generational reproduction
 Children involvement i...
 How do the interplay between different and deeply unequal
forms of power and exchange within the realm of
economics disa...
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Reframing Children’s Work in Ethiopia Using the Lens of Political Economy Perspective

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Presentation from international meeting on children's work/child labour in East Africa, hosted by the Africa Child Policy Forum, Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa, and Young Lives, 20-21 March 2014 in Addis Ababa

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Reframing Children’s Work in Ethiopia Using the Lens of Political Economy Perspective

  1. 1. Dr Tatek Abebe Associate Professor Coordinator, Nordic Network of African Childhood and Youth Research Norwegian Centre for Child Research Norwegian University of Sciences and Technology www.ntnu.edu Presentation at East African Regional Symposium on Child Work/Child Labour, 20-21 March 2014
  2. 2.  Perspectives on children’s work  Exemplify the “infantilization” of social reproduction  Explore what the political economy perspective might offer to contextualize children’s work
  3. 3.  Historicize children’s work in wider social transformations that shape community livelihood trajectories  Explore children’s views on interconnected issues of care, work and livelihood in contrasting geographical settings - Addis Ababa and Gedeo - situating these within ongoing debates on the social, cultural, economic, political contexts of child labour
  4. 4.  Participatory approaches to explore what children do, where, with whom, how and what they think about it  «My day»:  «My work»:  «Who matters»:  «Work and school»:  «Which work is best?»
  5. 5. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 9 Regions Southern Regional State; Gedeo Zone – high population density; cash economy (coffee, chat) employ ca. 15 million people, and key to national revenue.
  6. 6. coffee chat fruits enset
  7. 7.  Imperial regime  Ethiopia’s integration into the world economy  Socialist regime  Farmers cooperatives  Centralized market  Current ALID strategy sees commercial agriculture as  expanding the livelihood options for the rural population,  risk management and diversification strategy for peasants  a way of generating employment for young people.  Rapid economic development can be achieved through expansion of export-oriented crops  Coffee and chat – Ethiopia’s ‘green gold’ – account for 70% of total GDP. Most of these are produced in S Ethiopia.
  8. 8.  Global restructuring of coffee market  Collapse of International Coffee Association 1989  Sturctural Adjustment Programs  Increased land tax, withdrawal of subsidies, rising costs of fertilizers etc.  Import tariffs on processed goods that prevent coffee producers from adding value  New entrants into the market, that destablised prices  Plummeting coffee prices = 60% loss in revenue in 2003 in Ethiopia (Oxfam 2004)  Point of no return, enset takes 4 to 5 years for the trunk and root to be processed as food
  9. 9.  Disempowerment, coffee and chat took land away from enset, “women's crop”  Altered age- and gender-based divisions of labor  Increased reproductive work burden, on girls  Niche market facilitated exploitation of small scale farmers by local money lenders, who also purchase products prior to harvest, at unfavorable prices.  Disruptions in education  Despite expansion of primary schools, coffee producing regions continue to have one of the highest levels of truancy and school drop out rates in Eth  Diminishing household resources for children
  10. 10. Harnessing the ‘agro- forestry’ system Trade and off-farm activities
  11. 11. Apr-May (planting) June-Aug (growing) Sep-Dec (harvesting) Jan-Mar (land preparation)  subsistence farming involving food crops (e.g. maize, enset, potato, root crops) and cash crops (e.g. coffee, chat, sugar cane, fruits), and selling farm produce in market places  selective picking mature coffee beans from the tops of trees, washing and drying etc  off-farm, income generating activities in the rural informal economic sector, and nearby towns
  12. 12. Young care- giving activities Examples Domestic chores Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, sweeping floor, fetching water, collecting and splitting fuel wood, plastering huts and repairing thatched roofs Care work Caring for younger siblings, sick parents, relatives; preparing special food; helping them to turn in bed and walk Personal care involving bathing sick/weak family member; assisting to eat, dress and use the toilet Nursing of sick family members by administering drugs and applying creams on bedsores; communicating with doctors and health workers Income generation activities Sale of farm proceeds Informal labour for cash (farmhands, domestic help, retailing commodities in markets, portering, sewing services etc) Paid work in coffee picking and processing Portering, retail work, hawking etc Begging Emotional and practical support Emotional support and encouragement to those dying (Abebe and Skovdal, 2010 p. 572, AIDS Care)
  13. 13.  The deepening and transference to children of the burden of daily and generational reproduction  Children involvement in marginal livelihoods – transgress moral and socio-legal boundaries – to buffer household poverty  Expanded duration, intensity and field of children’s work  Repositioning of children’s daily roles, e.g. within domestic spaces, in local markets and agricultural work  Periodic, regular, and substantial home-based care- giving work of children
  14. 14.  How do the interplay between different and deeply unequal forms of power and exchange within the realm of economics disadvantages working children?  In what ways political and economic processes shape (and are reshaped by):  - the lives that children live?  - the “choices” children and their families confront?  - the spaces of livelihood children must draw on, negotiate, and navigate?  How the «intimate and global intertwine»  Re-introduce social reproduction as an important but missing aspect of debates areound development

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