Children ‘scavenging’ scrap metal for livelihood

FCOSS executive director Vani Catanasiga. Picture: FT FILE

Chilren are scavenging for scrap metal at landfills and dump sites in a bid to help put food on the table for their families, says Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga.

She also said she had witnessed children as young as eight years old selling food at night, as a means to provide for their family.

She said the rise in food costs had forced some families to engage their children in scrap metal scavenging and others into selling food at great risk at night.

Ms Catanasiga said the increase in food and fuel costs was not only affecting a lot of low-income families, it was also affecting their children’s education.

“If you go to Vunato rubbish dump in Lautoka, there are families looking for scrap metal to sell to earn money,” Ms Catanasiga said.

“The sad thing about this, we have seen parents with children at the rubbish dump. Children are going back to the income-generating activity of looking for scrap metal.”

She said she received reports from district council of social services members on the ground about the challenges faced by families who were struggling to put food on the table.

“I was at a supermarket in Laucala Beach when I came across three children selling roti parcels for a dollar each at 10pm, they could have been eight to 10 years old while their parents waited for them at a nearby bus stop.”

Ms Catanasiga said her team had come across children as young as nine, selling food outside supermarkets in Nasinu at night and some hawking rourou bundles at traffic lights to drivers.

“These children go around barefoot to sell their goods in the heavy rain without any umbrella or rain coats, even in the scorching heat.”

Questions sent to Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister Rosy Akbar and the ministry’s communications officer Joeli Vueti on Monday remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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