In Ghana, many children are trafficked from their home villages to work in the fishing industry. Living in tough conditions and working long hours every day, they are exploited by fishermen desperate to feed their families and make out a living along the banks of Lake Volta.
Created by the construction of the Akosombo dam in the early 1960s,LakeVoltais one of the world's largest artificial lakes. A number of fishermen who have depended on the bounties of the lake for many years report that fish stocks are decreasing, making it difficult to survive on fishing alone. Other work is scarce in a country where unemployment is widespread and approximately 40 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.
The depletion of stocks is one of the key reasons why children are needed as workers in the fishing industry. Children represent cheap labour, and their small, nimble fingers are useful in releasing the fish from the ever smaller nets.
Another task that trafficked children frequently perform is diving to disentangle the fish nets from the numerous tree stumps that are scattered throughout the lake. As nets are often dragged along the bottom of the lake, they tend to get stuck. Diving is a dangerous job that can have dire consequences for the children, from catching water-based diseases such as bilharzia and guinea worm to death from drowning.
The driving forces behind child trafficking extend beyond fish scarcity. Deep-rooted traditions can also help explain the prevalence of this crime. For example, it is common inGhanafor children to participate in apprentice work with a relative or family friend. Many children, and their parents, believe that going away to work is a route to a better life
Child labour and even trafficking are deeply ingrained in the fishing industry in Ghana. Through conversations with child traffickers, it becomes clear that many of them simply do not realize that it is wrong for children to be away from their parents, missing school and performing hard physical work for long hours.
The legal framework on trafficking inGhanawas strengthened in December 2005, when the Government passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill, with assistance from a variety of international organizations. And whileGhanahas not ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, there is optimism that it will do so in the near future.
The fight had, most recently, been taken on by number of non governmental organizations inGhanaand notably among them is Partners In Community Development Programme (PACODEF). One of its main objectives is to help eradicate child labour, child slavery and trafficking, tracing down rescued children and re-socialize them.
Led by George Achibra Snr, PACODEP is located at Kete Krachie the heart of receiving communities in northernVolta. Projects Abroad Human Rights Organization (PAHO) has initiated a campaign programme to be carried out by volunteers in March.
Great initiative from PAHO. Reliable documentation of the problem is an important step in effecting change. A comparative longitudinal study of the children trafficked and the children rescued would be the basis for both social progress and a significant contribution to academic knowledge in the fields of anthropolgy, development studies and other disciplines. Keep us updated and safe and productive journey to the PAHO team.