Child labour

Livelihood support empowers single mother of four to invest in her children’s future

Single parent in Hanoi benefits from the provision of livestock and technical training on pig raising, which yields a sustainable source of income for her to fund the continued education of her children.

Bài viết | Ngày 24 tháng 3 năm 2022
Nguyen Thi Hoan and her son by the pigsty, the main source of income of the family
Nguyen Thi Hoan lives in a small village on the outskirts of Hanoi with her four children, including three girls aged 18, 16 and 9, and a boy, aged 7.

Hoan’s husband passed away in 2016, positioning her as the sole breadwinner of the family. To make ends meet over the years, Hoan has divided her time between rattan and bamboo weaving, rice wine production and pig raising. In 2020, not only was the single mother faced with the impacts of COVID-19, she also lost her livestock to a widespread swine disease, depriving her of her main source of income. Due to the family’s precarious circumstances, the household was identified by local authorities as highly vulnerable to child labour.

Although the rate of child labour in Viet Nam has steadily declined over the years, it remains a significant risk for such households, with over 1 million children reportedly engaged in child labour nationwide in 2018. It is predicted that the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have since pushed more families to resort to child labour alongside declining incomes, increasing job losses and underemployment.

To mitigate this risk for Hoan’s children, the International Labour Organization (ILO) joined forces with local authorities and Hanoi Cooperative Alliance to support the family, providing the household with two piglets and one sow, along with the provision of technical training on disease prevention and sustainable breeding techniques. Hoan is among one of 27 families in difficult circumstances in Hanoi benefiting from this timely intervention designed to ensure that families faced with financial hardship are able to keep their children in school and out of child labour.

The support is implemented by the US Department of Labor-funded ILO project, Enhancing National Capacity to Prevent and Reduce Child Labour in Viet Nam (ENHANCE), in partnership with the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs.

Thanks to the assistance facilitated by the project, Hoan has gained the confidence and capital to reinvest in pig farming. After seven months of raising the pigs with ongoing support from a technical expert, Hoan was eventually able to sell the pigs to a local butcher, and subsequently purchased seven more pigs, which are currently thriving thanks to the new sustainable techniques she learned during training.

For Hoan, the support she has received has been crucial to maintaining her children’s education.

“The income I earn from pig raising makes it much easier for me to pay for my children’s schooling, which is very costly at the beginning of the school year. In the past, I had to take out a loan to cover these costs”, she explains.

In addition to tuition fees, the cost of books, uniforms, school lunches and other learning tools places a significant financial burden on the single mother. As such, the ENHANCE project has also supported the family through the provision of school supplies.

Despite the family’s financial difficulties, Hoan is keen for her children to continue their schooling and look to a brighter future. Her oldest daughter is currently enrolled on an accountancy course, which she hopes will enable her to find decent employment nearby the family after she graduates.

“I don’t want my children to work as pig farmers; I want them to gain an education so that they can find better jobs with stable incomes”, Hoan explains.

In addition to the livelihood support Hoan has received, she has also benefitted from community awareness raising organized through the project, which has strengthened her understanding of the negative impacts of child labour and the long-term benefits of education.

Although Hoan’s older daughters support her with rattan weaving for a few hours a day, the single mother is determined for her children to be able to prioritize their education.

“Because of the awareness raising events I attended and the technical training I’ve received, I’m now keen to expand my farming activities so I can invest more in my children’s education”, she says.

As the Government of Viet Nam embarks on its second national programme to prevent and reduce child labour, the ILO will continue to support the implementation of targeted livelihood interventions across the country, with a view to scale up such models nationwide. The goal is to provide struggling families like Hoan’s with sustainable alternatives to child labour, enabling them to put the education of their children first.