Child scavengers of the Philippines

A Pilot Project on Child Workers Engaged in Scavenging in Metro Manila

The pilot project is a technical cooperation programme between the Philippine Government and the International Labour Organization, implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment. The project has tested a programmatic and organizational approach to address the problems of child workers in the pilot site.

Dumpsite scavenging is extremely hazardous for children. It exposes the children not only to physical risks and accidents but also to the long term effects of emotional, intellectual and social damage created by such hazardous work situation.

The child scavenging problem is a complex, multi-faceted problem. It takes on the direct issues confronting the children and their families (e.g. poverty, occupational hazards, poor health and nutrition, limited life chances, lack of educational opportunities and a "culture" picturesque of weak support systems, dysfunctional social relationships, family disintegration, low aspirations, and a generally dim outlook of the future).

Summary of recommendations:

  • Policy issues. The amended Philippine Labor Code prohibits the employment of children in hazardous occupation. The project recommends that the government looks into its legislative agenda on the overall issue of child labour. The existing laws on the prohibition of child labour require a thorough review and concrete amendments to clarify and remove confusing statements, to put forward a stronger and more explicit position regarding the protection, regulation, prohibition and rehabilitation of child workers engaged in hazardous occupations, not only in the formal but also in the informal labour sectors.
  • Programme issues. The project takes the SABANA to be the model for a community developmental response to child labour. It projects that by incorporating the SABANA, it will be able to sustain and institutionalize its efforts at building the capacity of the beneficiaries themselves to actually manage and directly implement a child labour intervention project even at the level of the child workers' families and communities. Actions will be undertaken to ensure that SABANA will really develop into a functional, effective and self-help community-based organization.
The project completed the general framework of developing and strengthening community-based initiatives for  the protection, regulation and rehabilitation of child workers, at the same time with the efforts on institutionalizing responsive and integrated programmes and services, backed up by strong and definite laws, policies and enforcement mechanisms, to make possible the prohibition of child labour in any form, minus the exceptions in the Philippines.

For further information please contact:

ILO Country Office for the Philippines (CO-Manila)
19th Floor, Yuchengco Tower
RCBS Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue
1200 Makati City, Philippines
Tel. +632 580 9900
Fax +632 856 7597
Email