Tanzania is struggling to end child labour from the lure of gold, media reports on Tuesday.
There are more than four million child labourers in Tanzania aged between 5 and 17, according to a government survey released last year in conjunction with the International Labour Organization.
This figure is roughly a third of the country’s children.
More than three million are doing hazardous jobs, including illegal mining like the one near Nyaligongo in northern Tanzania where they are exposed to mercury, heavy dust, and work long shifts without safety gear.
The Tanzanian government is aware of the problem but has struggled to keep children out of small, unlicensed mines.
Its laws do not allow children under 14 to work, and hazardous work is not permitted for children over 14.
Tanzania has signed all major international conventions on child labour and introduced its own laws to prevent the worst child labour.
Three years ago, 14-year-old Julius left his family near the lakeside city of Mwanza, Tanzania, to try his luck mining gold.
Today Julius is in no hurry to leave, despite having one of the riskiest jobs on a chaotic mine site-handling mercury each day with his bare hands.
“It’s good work. I’m paid well,” Julius, who only wanted to use his first name, told the media, wearing an orange t-shirt and skinny jeans coated red dirt.
Julius, now 17, said he has been working with mercury for three years – but no one had ever told him it was dangerous.