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Globally, the development sector is moving rapidly towards greater accountability and increased collaboration in response to greater recognition of complexity and interrelated challenges, and a failure of traditional approaches to achieve tangible outcomes. The British Asian Trust too has been changing the way it works in line with this changing approach. We are consciously focusing on being outcomes focused in all our work – specifically being driven by the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, we are committed to working through collaborative models and partnerships, which for example, bring in pooled funding, complementary technical expertise and a business solution mind-set to deal with the complexity of real world challenges. 

This is particularly reflected in the new work in Jaipur we are supporting along with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the C&A Foundation, and the Freedom Fund. Our research with the Freedom Fund has found that there are an estimated 50,000 children trapped in hazardous workshops in Jaipur, who produce goods including bangles, embroidery, sarees and semi-precious gems. Many of these children are forced to work for up to 15 hours a day in difficult conditions, leading to long-term damage to their physical and mental health. Many have also been found to have been trafficked from Bihar. 

Our work in Jaipur has specific outcomes aligned specifically to SDG 8 – “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”.

To address the complexity of this scenario and to ensure that we achieve quantifiable outcomes, we have co-developed a model with our partners that will address child labour in Jaipur in a comprehensive manner. We are working in both the source and destination areas and will address both supply and demand factors to ensure we can fully deal with complexity and interrelated issues. 

In the areas we have identified in Bihar, we are working with communities on education and mobilisation. In Jaipur, we are working with Government, police, civil society organisations and communities to identify, rescue, rehabilitate and repatriate victims, and prosecute enablers. In addition, this project is unique in addressing a crucial but often ignored part of the issue – business demand for child labour.

Businesses and consumers are not usually a part of traditional models. We have realised however that to ensure sustainability of our efforts, we need to find ways to end the demand for child labour in businesses – otherwise, more children will be brought in to replace the ones we rescue. Bringing on business as a partner in our efforts is therefore a critical part of our work. 

We are engaging with businesses to find ways in which we can eliminate the demand for child labour. This includes changing attitudes among consumers by increasing awareness and demand for child labour free products (and reducing demand for products made with child labour), thereby increasing incentives for businesses to adopt transparency measures in their supply chains. To complement this, we will work with business to create processes by which we can assess potential problems in supply chains and find ways to address challenges jointly. We are also working within local communities to promote children staying in school, not in labour.  

This project is exciting and innovative, and asks the question – can we engage consumers and make them socially conscious and vote with their wallets, thereby making the most effective case for

business to change? Can businesses be brought to care about issues not only by relying on their goodwill, but by actively making it economically and reputationally harmful for them not to do so? 

The British Asian Trust is well positioned to drive this change. We have deep links to business and private sector and have a thorough understanding of how to build partnerships that go beyond funding. Indeed, our work in Jaipur is a demonstration of how partners with complementary skill sets and knowledge can come together to create a model that is comprehensive, thorough, and unafraid to deal with complexity.

 

By Karan Malik, Programme Manager - India, British Asian Trust 

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