The efforts by 40 NGOs in the country, with the support of London-based Freedom Fund, have been able to reduce the bonded labour steeply over the last five years.
According to the evaluation report by the Freedom Fund, Between 2015 and 2018, the prevalence of households in bonded labour fell, on average, from 56% to 11% in the 1,100 target villages across the northern and southern India under the two programmes supported by the agency.
The first program, in the northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, aimed to help lower caste households to exit conditions of debt bondage in industries such as brick kilns, stone quarries and agriculture. The second, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, sought to end forced and bonded labour in cotton spinning mills, which employed young women and girls from Dalit or other scheduled caste communities.
The steep reduction in bonded labour meant at least 125,000 fewer individuals came out of this. The proportion of households with a child in bonded labour also 13% to 1% in southern India and from 12% to 3% in northern India. Another impact of the intervention was considerable reduction in the number of child marriages and school drop-outs.
“In northern India, among households in bonded labour, SHG membership increased from 35% to 94%. The state of Bihar in our northern India hotspot now tops the national league table on child rescue operations, having previously ranked low among states in tackling child labour,” the report said.