Uttar Pradesh accounts for an estimated 20% of the country’s working children. In 2000, UNICEF in cooperation with IKEA set up the Bal Adhikar Initiative in the carpet belt of the state where children account for more than a fifth of the workforce.
The project was set up in 200 villages of the carpet-intensive Jaunpur, Bhadohi and Mirzapur districts. It now covers 500 villages and addresses:
• The denial of children’s rights to education
• The protection of children from exploitation and abuse
• The debt-poverty spiral
Currently, around 346,000 children up to the age of 14 years are reached through this Initiative. Around 24,000 children have been enrolled in primary school. Around 850 self-help groups have been formed, helping more than 11,000 resource-poor women in the 500 villages covered by the Initiative.
Using this successful model, the long-term goal is an increase in the number and scale of community-centred approaches for the prevention of child labour by the government.