Save the Children Switzerland, The Centre for Child Rights and Business and dormakaba are jointly tackling child labour in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project offers children involved in mining individual and long-term support.

Due to poverty and lack of quality education, also children work in cobalt mines in Kolwezi, DRC . © The Centre for Child Rights and Business

Child labour in cobalt mining

The world is sourcing around 70% of its cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The metal is used in many everyday objects such as smartphones, computers and electric cars. The ongoing green transition is increasing international demand for cobalt.

Home to more than half a million people, Kolwezi hosts many of the country’s formal large-scale mines, as well as a very active artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector that is a lifeline to approximately 200,000 people and accounts for up to 30% of the global cobalt supply. Due to the persistent poverty and a lack of alternatives as quality education and training as well as income-generating activities, it is estimated that one in six children in ASM communities in the DRC is engaged in dangerous mining work. Working conditions in the ASM sector are particularly hazardous and the risks of child rights violations are high.

Protect children's rights in supply chains

We are committed to upholding children’s rights in global supply chains so that children are protected, can go to school and simply be children. With the support of dormakaba, a global leader in the market for access solutions headquartered in Switzerland, we are protecting children from exploitative child labour in small-scale mining in the DRC. The company is committed to the project as part of its duty of care against child labour in its own supply chains. The ten-year programme is being implemented and coordinated by Save the Children’s subsidiary organisation The Centre for Child Rights and Business.


Child Labour Remediation

The partnership includes a direct and sustainable remediation programme for children and youth working in artisanal and small-scale cobalt mining. In identified cases of child labour, affected children receive immediate support and are reintegrated into school and vocational programmes to create sustainable and long-term perspectives.

Children receive monthly stipends for their living expenses, school fees, medical care and psychological support. These measures are tailored individually to the needs and situation of each child. Every child is matched with a dedicated case manager whose primary responsibility is to provide comprehensive support to both the child and their family, ensuring that the child’s best interests and perspectives remain central throughout the entirety of the programme. In addition, the project strengthens local capacities by building on a local network of child rights actors.

«We are delighted to have dormakaba as a partner who has made a long-term commitment to combating child labour in artisanal small-scale mining. The partnership is an important step in our efforts to provide children around the world with protection and access to quality education», says Adrian Förster, CEO Save the Children Switzerland.

The partnership underlines our commitment to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and emphasises the importance of transparent and responsible supply chains.

Stephanie Ossenbach Group Sustainability Officer of dormakaba
Sandra Groth | Sustainable Supply Chain Manager


Sandra Groth has over 15 years of experience in the field of corporate responsibility, specialising in ensuring environmental and social standards in global supply chains. At Save the Children Switzerland, she is responsible for «Children's Rights & Business» and is the contact person for companies looking to act in compliance with the law and positively shape their influence on children and their rights.

 044 267 74 70

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