This project aims to prevent and eradicate child labour among migrant families, especially those who have to resort to waste recovery and recycling to survive. The project covers two shantytowns in Buenos Aires.

Key Objectives

  • Preventing and eradicating child labour
  • Improving income in migrant families
  • Promoting and strengthening children’s rights within the family and the community
  • Regularizing the migratory status of participating families

Concrete Benefits

  • Heads of beneficiary families received financial help to start a small business.
  • Individual beneficiaries received training in business management.
  • Children of beneficiary families are enrolled in school and attend classes regularly.
  • Children of beneficiary families have more access to health services and after-school activities.
  • Beneficiary families became aware of children’s rights in the family and community.
  • Beneficiary families received grants and loans to help them regularize their migratory status and apply for national identity cards.
  • An estimated 70% of beneficiary children will be prevented from working in conditions that are dangerous to their health, security and/or morality.

Project Description

"Child labour as ‘cartoneros’ impairs educational performance, diminishes job opportunities for the youth and originates stigmatization. Waste collection implies risks for the physical and psychic well-being of those concerned. Worse still, migrants lack proper documentation and have no information on their rights. This project contains community-based activities aimed at attacking these problems faced by these poor and vulnerable groups." -- Eugenio Ambrosi, Chief of Mission, IOM Argentina

Many migrant families live in Villa 31 and Villa 31(bis), two shantytowns in Buenos Aires. Some of these migrants are from Argentine provinces, while others are from neighbouring countries like Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Chile. These families have left their provinces looking for better job opportunities or because they were excluded from the economic system in their own countries. Many of them, however, have ended up as cartoneros in Buenos Aires, searching garbage dumps for recyclable materials they can sell. With waste recovery as their only source of income, many families cannot afford to send their children to school, but instead let the children work also as cartoneros so that they could add to the family’s meager earnings. Moreover, for the migrants from other countries, finding a good job can be difficult, because around 70 per cent of them are in Argentina without legal documents.

The first stage of the Recuperar ("To recover") project was developed in 2005–2006 and benefited 35 families in the area. Parents received technical assistance and obtained loans so they could start small businesses to help improve their family income and living conditions. The financed micro-enterprises include selling groceries, carpentry, dressmaking and shoemaking. Around 40 beneficiaries participated in the training activities on business management.

In addition, 93 per cent of the children in participating families are now regularly attending school – 30 children were registered at educational inclusion programmes, while 47 children received scholarships. The children’s access to health services and after-school activities increased as well. Furthermore, five workshops given to 30 parents and grandparents raised the adults’ awareness on children’s rights.

Finally, the project provided grants and loans that would allow beneficiary families to regularize their migratory status and apply for national identity cards.

"Recuperar" has contributed to improving the lives of 81 boys and girls under 18, all of them belonging to migrant families. For the next stage, the goal is to stop or prevent at least 70 per cent of the beneficiary children from working in jobs which, owing to their nature or the conditions in which they are carried out, are dangerous to their health, security and morality.

Principal IOM Activities

  • Launching of a call for micro-enterprise proposals.
  • Selection and evaluation of proposals; approval of micro-credit grants.
  • Organization of workshops on children’s rights.
  • Ensuring the enrolment and attendance of children in school.
  • Counselling on migrant regularization and rights of migrants.



Solange Arcuri / Cecilia Abregú
International Organization for Migration
Av. Callao 1033, 3° piso
1023 Buenos Aires


  • Japan Special Fund Poverty Reduction Program

Project Details

Start Date
December 2007

End Date
December 2009

Project Country