In Madagascar, advocacy for the extension of a social protection programme for children

The universal child allowance and equal opportunities programme is a window of hope for the approximately 100 vulnerable families who live from mica mining

Irenee Arimanana Ravelojaona Ep Ratovo
Familles Mica
UNICEF Madagascar/2022/Ravelojaona
14 July 2022

In Vohibola, 15 km from Amboasary in Southern Madagascar, Soja Molisoa and his wife Miza Razie live from mica mining with their 10 children. Having practiced this profession for several years, they are upset about the extremely low price of efforts made to operate this mine. The daily income between Ar 3000 (0.78 dollars) and Ar 4000 (0.98 dollars) made it possible to only buy three cups of rice. "It's not much for 12 mouths to feed. But this money guarantees us enough to eat at least once a day," explains Miza Razie.

In this part of the island, the mica mining is an activity that has grown due to the severe drought that prevails there. Families have chosen the activity for the lack of satisfactory harvest throughout the year to meet all their needs. The situation is even more delicate for Miza Razie and her family who do not own land to cultivate or livestock. "We survive only thanks to this activity," she says.

Like this family, mica mining is carried out by vulnerable families with young children. This is the case of the family of Soja Heritsivany who is in charge of 20 children. "12 are my own children and eight are my grand-children from four of my daughters who are single mothers. In addition, 12 of them are under 15 years old," she says.

Together, parents and children also work in mica mining. With a price from Ar 100 (0.024 dollars) to Ar 150 (0.037 dollars) per kilo, mutual aid is crucial to be able to earn between around Ar 3 000 (0.78 dollars) and Ar 4000 (0.98 dollars) during the day. Children do not enjoy their fundamental rights, among others, access to basic health care, or education because parents rarely have the means to care for them or ensure their studies. Having inclusive social protection, through allowances for children and equal opportunities, is an alternative that will reduce child poverty and encourage more investment in their well-being for their development.

Tenasoa is the daughter of Miza Razie. She is 14 years old and lives with a physical disability. Unable to walk, she crawls every day to reach the mining site and go about her task to get 2 kilos of mica a day. "I don't know the origin of her disability. I don't remember if she had any routine vaccinations when she was young. In addition, she has to work because it allows us to increase our income," continues Miza Razie.

There is a hint of bitterness in her voice. Tenasoa likes school but cannot attend it for lack of means, especially since the nearest establishment is 15 km from the site, with a road in very poor condition. Like her, many children working in mica mining do not attend school. The community of Tenasoa and her family have thus planned to build a school and have already convinced a young graduate from the village to teach there. "We have already started to build it with our own resources but we can't finish it," she regrets.

In addition, it is difficult to know the exact age of the children of the village who work daily in the mines. None of the births that took place there have been registered. Children do not have birth certificates. The two matrons, including Miza Razie, have the difficult task of accompanying the mothers and carrying out all the birth deliveries. "Three days are needed to get to the capital of the commune if someone is sick. The journey is made on foot because we have no means of transport," says Soja Heritsivany, the other mica operator.

Tenasoa fille de Miza Razia. Elle a 14 ans et elle n’est jamais allée à l’école. Elle est devenue handicapée car elle n’a pas été vacciné. Malgré son état, elle arrive à travailler sur le site mica en rampant. Elle apparaît eue deux kg par jour et l’argent qu’elle gagne complète sa nourriture quotidienne.
UNICEF Madagascar/2022/Ravelojaona
Tenasoa daughter of Miza Razia. She is 14 years old and she has never been to school. She became disabled because she had not been vaccinated. Despite her condition, she manages to work on the mica site by crawling. She manages to work with 2kg of mica a day and the money she earns completes her daily food.