Encouraging Ethical Sourcing

Indian cobble yard. Piles of stone and women picking through it

Being an ethical supplier is more than a trademark for London Stone. Since 2015, the supplier has been working with organisation No Child Left Behind to help eradicate child labour in Budhpura, Rajasthan, India, so that the children who live there can enjoy full-time education.

“This region of Rajasthan is the world centre of sandstone sett production, a sector that’s highly susceptible to child labour. There was a growing issue in the supply chain because of this,” says Steven Walley, managing director of London Stone.

The pandemic has only worsened the problem of child labour in Budhpura; with no school for more than 18 months, and nothing to do, children have drifted back to work. “Children are migrating back towards these work environments, after we’ve spent years trying to move them towards education. We’re effectively starting again,” admits Steven.

No Child Left Behind meeting in Budhpura. Men sitting on floor around edge of room.
London Stone’s Steve Walley at a meeting in Budhpura, 2018.

No Child Left Behind tackles a host of other issues in the area, including H&S, gender equality and supporting workers to have their own bank accounts. For London Stone and other European suppliers involved in the No Child Left Behind project, such as stoneasy.com and Beltrami, it’s important that all the people within their supply chains are looked after, and not just with financial donations. “We see our supply chain as an extension of our company,” explains Steve. “It’s important that we value the people within our supply chain as much as we value our customers and our staff within London Stone – we feel responsible as much as we can be for their wellbeing.”

London Stone also encourages its suppliers within India to support the No Child Left Behind project.  In many cases, Indian suppliers simply adding their leverage can make a massive difference to how effective a project can be.

A dusty lane between buildings and trees, Budhpura, Rajasthan.
Budhpura is in a very rural area of Rajasthan.

“The more people who apply pressure to make changes, the more chance there is of the changes being made. Invariably, our Indian suppliers are supplying their products to many other suppliers across the world and if all these suppliers came together to put pressure on the Indian suppliers, we would see a lot of these supply-chain issues addressed very quickly. This is more helpful than simply walking away from producers – this would worsen problems for workers, as their income would dry up,” says Steve.

“And we can raise awareness of the issue in the UK. We can educate landscapers, garden designers and our retail clients about the importance of understanding what they’re buying and understanding the supply chain. Customers can show their support by buying from companies who take supply-chain ethics seriously.”

Women sitting spaced apart in rows on dusty ground receiving instructions.
Covid safety training for women workers.

Lots of people ask if there are any types of certification for ethical sourcing.  “There are, but certification isn’t always the most useful tool,” says Steve. “Certification doesn’t always solve the problem because it’s effectively a badge – just because a badge says your business is compliant today, who is to say that the same business will be compliant tomorrow?”

London Stone takes the opportunity, on its regular buying missions, to visit Manjari, the NGO running the No Child Left Behind Project in Budhpura.  “It’s always inspiring to see how improvements are progressing and to try and gain a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges in Budhpura,” says Steve.  “But what we need are more UK suppliers to get involved, increasing our leverage on the supply chain.” 

To find out how to get involved with the work of No Child Left Behind, please get in contact with Steve at: steven@londonstone.co.uk.

Cover of October 2021 edition of Pro Landscaper magazine.

This article first appeared in the October 2021 edition of Pro Landscaper.

Read Celebrating Budhpura! for more about the history of No Child Left Behind.

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Celebrating Budhpura!

On Sunday the 24th March, something momentous and joyous happened in the village of Budhpura, Rajasthan, India. To understand why the 24th March was such a momentous day though we need to understand the history of this semi-rural village, tucked away in the back waters of Rajasthan.

85% of the worlds Sandstone is quarried in Rajasthan and the Bundi highway cuts through this stone quarrying region like a knife. There is a stretch of this highway where for 20km all you can see in every direction are quarries and mining activity!

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Looking Towards The Future

No Child Left Behind: A Retrospective Series on the Progress Made and What’s To Come

In this four-part series, we’ll take a look back at the No Child Left Behind program, the progress that’s been made, and also explore what’s on the horizon.

Part 4: Looking Towards the Future

Now that the No Child Left Behind programme has some established successes, it’s time to begin looking towards the future. In this case, that means expanding much of the work towards also helping the broader community, and in particular addressing the standards in the yards and mines.

The mines are a long way from civilisation. Achieving any change here will be an enormous challenge.

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The Situation Now

No Child Left Behind: A Retrospective Series on the Progress Made and what’s To Come

In this four-part series, we’ll take a look back at the No Child Left Behind program, the progress that’s been made, and also explore what’s on the horizon.

Part 3: The Work Pays Off

Since the beginning of No Child Left Behind, tremendous progress has been made in getting children out of work and back into schools. In fact, according to the report “Stop Child Labour – Out of Work Programme – End Term Evaluation” from the Stop Child Labour Coalition, 361 children were prevented from child labour and an additional 593 were withdrawn from child labour, out of a total 1,019 children who were initially identified as “out of school.” In addition, seven schools (including six primary and one secondary) are now fully functional compared with only one before. There are also eight pre-school centers (Anganwadis), which were non-existent before. Additional teachers are also expected to be appointed, as a result of the ongoing lobbying of the state government.

The project has delivered real and tangible results, getting children back into education

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On The Ground

No Child Left Behind: A Retrospective Series on the Progress Made and what’s To Come

In this four-part series, we’ll take a look back at the No Child Left Behind program, the progress that’s been made, and also explore what’s on the horizon.

Part 2: The Project Begins to Take Shape

In a project such as No Child Left Behind, ensuring its long-term success is a complicated proposition. While organisations outside the region may sometimes be tempted to take control of the various aspects of the project from abroad, the reality is that this type of remote management has serious limitations. In order for a project like this to be successful, it must be run by a competent team of professionals on the ground who have a deep knowledge of the community they’re serving as well as an understanding of the type of bureaucracy and general challenges they will be facing.

For the No Child Left Behind program, it was the local team from Manjari based in Budhpura who made the difference. Their team, which included a number of individuals from Budhpura, was more prepared to tackle the challenges of child labor due to their insight into the area and the unique issues facing the community. But it wasn’t always easy – a lot of training was needed initially to make sure all of the staff members were up to speed on the work.

The Manjari team after a multi stakeholder meeting
The Manjari team after a multi stakeholder meeting

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