By UNICEF Rwanda | Wednesday Sep 6, 2017
Representatives from the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and UNICEF Rwanda met Tuesday, August 29th, 2016 to sign an important partnership agreement. The new partnership between NAEB and UNICEF will emphasize the importance of children’s rights in business practices, particularly in the tea industry. The two agencies committed to focus on key children priorities, including early childhood development, nutrition, and health.
NAEB, registered under the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, works with all businesses in the tea, coffee and horticulture sectors. Among Rwanda’s 15 tea factories and 19 cooperatives, factory and plantation workers are often parents or of reproductive age. Following informal assessments of some tea factories and plantations, NAEB and UNICEF agreed that there is an opportunity of improving the lives of children in these areas in close collaboration with the tea companies.
“Businesses have a wide potential to impact children’s lives, which is why this partnership is so important. There is a growing awareness of corporate responsibility in Rwanda, and our work with NAEB will be essential in integrating child rights into the tea industry” said Ted Maly, UNICEF Representative.
Following the signing of this partnership agreement, NAEB and UNICEF will begin working together with tea companies and other concerned institutions such as MIGEPROF, MIFOTRA and MINALOC to improve conditions affecting health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices, and practical child care options in tea growing areas.
Another important area of the partnership is the implementation of the globally recognised Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP). These principles emphasize corporate responsibility to respect and support children’s rights in business.
“NAEB works hand-in-hand with tea business owners and affiliated employees. One of our major responsibilities is to protect the rights of employees, with a focus on children and women, by advocating for improved working conditions. This partnership with UNICEF will result in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of those tea workers, thus elevating their livelihoods and contribute to the tea sector’s growth,” said Ambassador George William Kayonga, CEO of NAEB.
The activities between NAEB and UNICEF include stakeholder trainings on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, community outreach events using community theatre, and community trainings to strengthen early childhood development and nutrition programmes around tea plantations.
UNICEF is looking forward to improving the lives of children and women through its partnership with NAEB and future partnerships with the public and private sector in Rwanda.
Children involved in non-hazardous child labor represented 3.4 percent of all children aged between six and 17 in Rwanda, according to the Integrated Livelihood Conditions Survey released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in 2016.
Between 2014 and 2016, 2,700 children were withdrawn from work of the tea sector and returned to the school, according to various stakeholders' reports.