british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2010 - Tackling child labour in Nigeria’s tobacco growing areas

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Sustainability Report 2010

Child labour continues to be a key human rights issue for any industry that incorporates an agricultural supply chain and tobacco growing is no exception.

Several studies have found that child labour in many countries can be directly linked to high levels of poverty. In Nigeria, it is estimated that over 70 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

A 2006 UNICEF document Opens in new window estimated that 15 million children were engaged in child labour in Nigeria. These children are said to be exposed to long hours of hazardous work, with no education or medical care. Most can be found working in informal and semi-formal businesses, or as home-helps in the cities. Over recent years the Nigerian Government, in partnership with international agencies and local NGOs, has put significant effort into tackling child labour.

British American Tobacco Nigeria works with around 850 independent farmers and engages with them every year to raise understanding of child labour issues. During the engagement sessions the company seeks to understand the farmers’ personal circumstances, which might lead them to employ children on their farms. As part of the local tradition and culture, many farmers believe that a child should assist its parents with domestic chores. The company tries to address this by making clear the distinction between this tradition and child labour: where work impedes a child’s welfare, safety or educational development, it is considered child labour. This includes instances where children do not attend school because they are working, and where their work involves handling hazardous machinery or chemicals.

In addition to this engagement, the company carries out unscheduled spot checks for child labour on the farms in its supply chain. As with all of the Group’s leaf suppliers, these farmers are also required to undergo Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) assessments, which include a section on child labour.

In 2004, British American Tobacco Nigeria established a scholarship scheme primarily aimed at the children of tobacco farmers. The scheme provides candidates aged 18 and above with grants to study agriculture or related courses in any Nigerian tertiary education establishment. This gives the farmers an incentive to send their children to primary and secondary school, in order for them to qualify to apply for the scholarship. To date, 65 students have received grants, including 10 in 2010.

In early 2010, British American Tobacco Nigeria carried out a review of the scholarship scheme in order to enhance its impact and address stakeholder feedback that the scope of eligible courses should be expanded. As a result, in 2011 the number of scholarships available in the scheme will be increased and there will be an additional course option.

In 2011, the company plans to work with a local NGO to further raise awareness and understanding of child labour issues among tobacco farmers.