Civil society

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Introduction

Rapid proliferation of large-scale mining activity after the privatization of the mining industry in Ghana has increased demand for mineralized land throughout the country. Demand for large tracts of land required for large-scale surface mining is causing tensions between multinational mining companies and indigenous groups. Mining companies have gone through the necessary legal channels to secure concessions and should therefore have legal entitlement. But for indigenous people, land provides their livelihoods and they have cultural ties to it (Obara and Jenkins 2006: 6)[1].

Mining activities in Ghana usually take place in rural areas with high illiteracy rates. Land designated for large-scale mining is often taken from farmers without proper compensation and they have no chance to find another employment, since mining activities do not provide enough jobs to match the total number of people laid off from agriculture. This has led to a deepening of poverty.

In spite of the economic benefits resulting from investments in infrastructure – such as roads, schools, hospitals, electricity and water supplies – communities within mine localities suffer from environmental degradation, as well as health problems.

The concentration of mining activities has also resulted in massive migration of all kinds. Some people have had to migrate in search of farmland, others were relocated or resettled by the mining companies, while the youth has migrated to the towns, especially Tarkwa, and to the mining areas in search of jobs. The growing displacement of communities has the potential to create other social problems [2]. In nearly all cases, mining investment has had a seriously adverse impact on the social organization and cultural values of the people.

Description of the mining problem from a civil society perspective

Galamsey

The most problematic land use disputes occur between small 'illegal' miners called galamsey and large-scale mining companies. Small-scale illegal miners[3] are mainly individuals operating on plots of land demarcated for other stakeholders, particularly mining companies. This causes conflict, and companies are calling for intervention on the part of the Ghanaian Government. However, the government’s attempts to relocate illegal miners often generate escalated levels of agitation and conflicts and are unlikely to provide a long-term solution to the problem. The Ghanaian Government's policies that focus on promoting the interests of large-scale mining and which further marginalize indigenous mining groups are again fuelling the rapid growth of galamsey communities [1]

Environmental damage (contamination of water, land exploitation)

NGOs such as WACAM tell us about the problem in various communities, such as the discharge of cyanide and other contaminants from the treatment of the metals extraction into drinking water and the use of land for mining without regard to the needs and development of communities.

Land devaluation without proper compensation

This is a widespread problem about which NGOs and civil society organizations have raised their voices and called for government assistance. As well as having to manage their land, local communities are left without work, they do not receive adequate compensation, they are not taken into account in decision-making, they are not given the right advice and are negatively affected in their treatment, which leads to social confrontations and tension with mining companies. They demand that the mining laws recognise these problems and provide an adequate resolution of the problem.

Lack of government support

NGOs like WACAM have called for the reform of the mining laws, and for land planning that doesn't destroy the country's food reserves. The NGOs provide information to communities so they know their rights and they work in their favour because the government is not involved enough.

In national forums community representatives and organizations talk about their rights, they draft reports and they inform the public of the policies that are taking effect on the Government's part, as some members from the government are also present.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) fight for mining reforms. In the Third World Network, Africa has asked for the harmonizing of existing policies and the adoption of standards on behalf of a series of civil society groups and that they improve cooperation. In turn, they have urged African governments to improve the public's understanding and quality of the reforms.

Another organization such as EITI is a coalition of governments, companies and civil society groups that establishes global standards of transparency for the oil, gas and mining industries, investors and international organizations. The EITI's rules promote the transparency of opportunities at the local level. Publish What You Pay (PWYP), a global coalition of civil society, urges transparency and rendition of accounts.

Poverty, illiteracy and child labour

Articles that discuss this topic focus mainly on the problem of illegal mining or “Galamsey” and the education and commitment to the communities affected. There are several NGOs working on the issue of illegal mining, and on this subject we have quoted the Retired Mine Workers Foundation (REMWOF), which is working to help the return of workers to enable them to assist in the development of the region. The African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society (AIMES), has also called on the government to stop the looting of mining in Ghana, optimize the net benefit of mining, and also protect the sector with a new plan for investment that prioritizes a balance between artisanal and small scale.

In regard to education, there are also many NGOs working on on the issue such as World Partners for Development (WPD) and the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD). The first work on developing and implementing innovative sustainable solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges that are currently affecting human life, especially in Africa, is starting an education and awareness program that includes governments, community-based organizations, international organizations and individuals to help rural communities and to improve the quality of the environment.

The Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) urges government, enterprises and associations to find solutions for a the balanced and sustainable development of populations because the resources now belong to the dead, the living and the unborn, and posterity will not forgive us if we are not able to secure a safe future for all. They also tell us to minimize social conflict, which is necessary to involve local people in the changes that are happening in mining in order to deal with them in the best way and still maintain their culture.

In addition, governments and international organizations should play a larger role through training, education and health awareness, and play a greater role in the dissemination and transfer of important technologies for small-scale mining. Communities should be empowered with awareness programs on education in mining and its effects, as we read in the article on the workshop organized by Friends of the Earth (FoE) bringing together CSO´s, Forest Watch Ghana (FWG), Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Friends of Earth Uganda and Life Mosaic UK, where the participants decided to train the indigenous peoples through effective education through regular community radio programs and dialogue with local authorities.

The NGOs' work

The NGOs are very important from our point of view. The work they do is fundamental and the concern for people trying to solve problems that arise is fundamental to understanding how society tries to solve the problems around it.

In the last document we wrote, we saw a lot of things like some organizations with sophisticated technologies that offer engineering solutions to global challenges such as climate change, energy poverty, environmental degradation, and pollution on local communities in Ghana and Africa.

We see that it continuously seeks to improve the situation we find in Ghana and for that, working in communities and seeking support by way of association.

Perhaps more importantly what I see from the standpoint of the associations we studies is that the benefits obtained from the point of view of the association are at the enterprise level, where a few people enjoy few powers (also economic) and the rest of society is left out, if not in this section, associations, NGOs, the benefit is for all, working together to achieve benefits that are equally valid for everyone.

Promoting a sustainable environment and the health of the company associated with it is what is mainly provided by these organizations, and its main objective to promote a clean and environmentally friendly society.  

The main strategies proposed

The main strategies proposed to address communities affected by mining operations

The government should ensure adequate compensation for indigenous people.

The most important strategy to minimize social conflicts arising from mining is communication, effective cooperation and community participation. Communities who are affected must be consulted and have an equal say. Unlike the companies, indigenous people lack the efficient power to defend their interests. A transparent dialog should be provided by mediator, for example NGO. It is necessary to actively develop sensitivity to the traditions and culture of local people as well as to improve the understanding of the dynamics of modern mining and its implications on business relations.

One of the most effective and sustainable strategies are re-skilling programmes in alternative and sustainable livelihoods. This approach is used to address and eradicate poverty. Mining companies adopt this method in the belief that it will help reduce communities’ economic dependence on the mine, so that communities are self-sustaining after the mine has closed. It could also provide alternative livelihoods for illegal small-scale miners operating on their concession. However, several potential problems arise. Firstly, real financial support is needed to implement and sustain these projects until they are self-financing. Then for the programme to be successful adequate support and training must be provided throughout the lifetime of such projects to develop the capacity of those involved.

The main strategies proposed to address galamseys

The government should improve the registration process and restore the galamsey communities' confidence towards legalization of small-scale mining. Land specifically allocated for small-scale mining must be provided. However, that means that intensive prospecting must be first undertaken. The government, international organizations, as well as mining companies, should play a larger role in training, education and health awareness in mining and its effects. Mining companies in particular can also play a great part in the transfer and incorporation of best technologies for small-scale mining.

Are civil society representatives really partners for dialogue about long term visions?

Civil Society always has to be a part of the dialogue in all events.

As we have read, civilian representation is very important, either as NGOs, civil organizations or through the community leaders of the people affected.

They are doing a great job fighting for their rights in the affected areas and informing the public of existing problems and possible solutions, in addition to pressuring the government regarding the making of decisions.

In conclusion, if it was not for the efforts of civil representation in Ghana sustainable development in mining it would be even further away, and civil society representatives should be part of the dialogue in decision-making, consulting organizations or Ghanian people; without them, the subject of mining is under the control of the mining companies, which can put pressure on the state using the simple argument of economic growth, even though it is not sustainable.

List of references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Louise J. Obara and Heledd Jenkins: Land use disputes in Ghana’s mining communities: Developing sustainable strategies. 2006.
  2. Thomas Akabzaa and Abdulai Darimani: Impact of Mining Sector Investment in Ghana: A Study of the Tarkwa Mining Region. 2001.
  3. Small-scale mining is primarily a poverty-related activity found in regions where there are few employment opportunities and where education levels are extremely low (Obara and Jenkins 2006: 5).

News from Ghana Mining Portal, available from http://www.ghana-mining.org/ghanaims/SectorNews/NewsArchivesSEP2011/tabid/233/Default.aspx

Creative Commons Author: Juliána Kováriková, Jaime Gracia Pueyo, Eva Gil Mansilla. This article was published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. How to cite the article: Juliána Kováriková, Jaime Gracia Pueyo, Eva Gil Mansilla. (14. 08. 2022). Civil society. VCSEWiki. Retrieved 06:22 14. 08. 2022) from: <https://vcsewiki.czp.cuni.cz/w/index.php?title=Civil_society&oldid=5176>.