Malawi’s Children of Tobacco


While tobacco consumers in the developed world suffer a self-inflicted slow death, the children of Malawi are forced in the same footpath by absorbing dangerous toxic quantities of nicotine through their skin while working illegal in the tobacco fields. In Malawi it is illegal to work under the age of 14, still a severe amount of the children are ‘forced’ to work together with their parents in the tobacco industry to help provide a small income for the family. From the age of 5 around 1,5 million of Malawi’s children are joining the labour market, Malawi has the highest number of child labour in Africa. The tobacco industry and cigarette manufactures such as Phillip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco are powerfully influencing and forcing poor families in this under developed country to continue growing tobacco by providing loans exclusively for tobacco plantations and not e.g. for growing corn. This is a severe problem since the inhabitants are poor and see these loans as their only solution, hence they ratter grow tobacco than growing corn, to provide income. The children are facing a sad future since their participation in the tobacco field are giving them bad health as well as lack of education. Children are missing out form the compulsory education because they are obligated to work, and in a country where illiteracy and poverty is a main problem, this lack of opportunity for education will one day force them back into the fields as adults.


Have a look at this video, if someone has not a case study yet, I think it is a great idea, the children of Malawi is definitely the losers in the Global Political Economy.

Additionally the Guardian had an article about the same issue in 2011 where they state that Malawi has 80 000 children within the labour market of tobacco.

The video from Aljazeera are from 2014, where the numbers of children working are 1 500 000!! This means that this is not just a on-going problem, but it is expanding.

Mari Myrenget


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