Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya state, located in the Far East of India. Around 150,000 people live in this city surrounded by hills, hence the nickname “Scotland of the East”.
The area still depends greatly on agriculture. However, the sector is suffering from its low productivity, which causes poverty in Shillong. Children are even more vulnerable to this prevalent poverty, and thus many children are involved in child labour, working in mines in the region.
Since 1999, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Shillong.
The area around Shillong has not seen the same economic growth as other parts of the country. This could be due to its geographical position and the weak transport links to the area. 80% of people in Meghalaya state are dependent on agriculture. However, the sector is limited by the lack of modern techniques, and low productivity.
And thus, 24% of people live in poverty in the district of East Khasi Hills, where Shillong is located. Children are most affected by this poverty, often lacking access to education and healthcare; and vulnerable to undernourishment and child labour.
In India, 10 million children are estimated to be forced to work. They are employed in multiple sectors like the garment industry or agriculture, and are at risk of exploitation and trafficking.
In the Meghalaya state, where Shillong is located, child labour is a prevalent issue. An estimated 70,000 children, from India, Nepal or Bangladesh, are working in the many mines in the state. The district of East Khasi Hills, surrounding Shillong, is the district with the highest prevalence of child miners. Some of these children are no older than 5. In these mines, they have to cut and carry coal, extremely dangerous tasks.