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Enhancing The Capacities Of Mining Communities For Accountable And Transparent Natural Resoure Governance In Northern Ghana
TAMA Foundation Universal secured funding from the Fordfoundation to implement a project that will lead to transparent and accountable extraction of natural resources in Northern Ghana with particular focus on mining. The goal of the project is to ensure that the extraction and utilization of minerals resources is beneficial to mineral rich communities and contributes to a balanced and sustainable development of society in general. This will be achieved through the building of capacities of community leaders with advocacy and communication skills so that they can effectively engage with mining companies, regulatory agencies, duty bearers and other key stakeholders for their share of the benefits of mining and for reduced environmental impact.
As mining expands across Northern Ghana, it holds a potential to contribute to reducing north-south inequalities. However, this is only possible if mining communities have the knowledge and capacity to engage effectively with mining companies, government, and other relevant state institutions to claim their rights sand entitlements and where the needed accountability mechanisms and structures exist, alongside a strong civil society, playing its facilitating and oversight role to ensure gold resources are extracted and utilized in a transparent and accountable manner.
It is in this regard that TAMA Foundation Universal conducted the trainings to build the communication and advocacy skills of community leaders to help amplify their voices to engage effectively with mining companies to optimize community benefits whilst minimizing the environmental consequences of mining to communities.
The trainings were conducted in collaboration with the Minerals Commission of Ghana, the state agency with the primary responsibility of developing and coordinating mineral sector policies and monitoring their implementation and with experienced trainers/consultants from the SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Studies.
In all, 300 community leaders, made up of Paramount chiefs, Queen mothers, Opinion leaders, Elected District assembly Members, Divisional Chiefs, Leadership of women’s groups, Leadership of small-scale miners and Representatives of Mining companies were trained across the five regions of Northern Ghana, namely the Upper West Region, the Upper East region, North East Region, Northern Region and the Savanna Region.
An adult learning approach was adopted targeting Assembly members from mining communities, female opinion leaders, youth leaders, community champions, traditional Authorities, and other relevant stakeholders. The trainings were conducted at six different locations in all the five regions of Northern Ghana. Two locations in the Upper West Region and one each in the remaining four regions. The trainings were basically a coaching and mentoring sessions where participants were guided on existing laws, processes, and mechanisms for exacting their entitlements from minerals extraction whilst safe guiding their environment, livelihood sources, cultures, and traditions. The resource persons led the process with PowerPoint presentations, followed by participants comments, observations and/or clarifications.
Relevant documents relating to laws, regulations, statutes, international conventions etc were then shared with participants for their further readings and research.
The trainings in the Upper West Region benefitted 24 mining communities in two districts where Azumah Resources Limited, the main large scale commercial mining company is operating. Community leaders in fifteen (15) communities in the Nadowli Kaleo district and 9 communities in the Wa East district were trained. The training sessions witnessed the full participation of the District Chief Executives (DCEs), District Coordinating Directors (DCDs), the District Planning Officers (DPOs) and other core staff members of the assemblies.
In the Nadiowli District, which was the first call for the trainings, representatives of Azumah Resources Limited failed to participate but subsequently attended the sessions in the Wa East District, turning up rather very late. There was very high interest among community leaders in the trainings, judging the high-profile chiefs, queen mothers, tindaamas , political heads and technocrats who turned up, sat through and actively participated in all sessions.
3.1. Key Issues from trainings in the Upper West Region
The following key issues emerged from the training sessions in the Upper West Region:
Azumah Resources has been operating in the region for close to 20 years but still claims it is prospecting and NOT mining.
Mining communities are of the view that the company is hiding behind the law and stealing their mineral resources
That the company did not do any proper community entry as required by law
Azumah Resources has brought soldiers to occupy their land and terrorising the citizens of the region
They have been deprived off their livelihood sources since they can access their lands for farming purposes, a main occupation of the people
They need the support of TAMA Foundation and the SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated studies to help engage effectively with the mining firm and the state.
A Divisional Chief of the Nadowli Traditional Council expressing anguish over the operations of Azumah Resources in his area
In the Upper East Region, the trainings targeted mainly communities in the mining enclave of the Talensi district, where two major multinational mining companies are operating. Fifty (50) participants, made up of Queen Mothers, Assembly members, Paramount and divisional chiefs, assembly staff, community opinion leaders, youth and women leaders and representatives small scale miners. The District Coordinating Director, who stepped in for the District Chief Executive praised TAMA Foundation for the initiative and expressed the assembly’s readiness to work with CSOs to resolve the mining challenges confronting the district.
4.1. Key issues from training programme
Mining communities request of the assembly to ensure the mining companies in the area conduct property community entry procedures for proper engagements.
That the mining companies should sit with community leaders to design and sign a memorandum of understanding
That a committee be set up as an interface between mining companies and mining communities.
In the Northeast Region, the training took place in Arigu, a community around which two major quarry companies, namely Mawums Quarry and SS Logistics quarry operate. Quarrying activities in the area has led to increased tensions in the community. The training was therefore to increase knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the laws of the land so that when properly applied, peace, equity and understanding will prevail.
As is elsewhere, the major issues of concern in the area were issues of lack of effective consultation, improper community entry, absence of a Memorandum of understanding between community and quarrying companies among others.
In the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region, sandmining has become a major mineral extraction activity in the area. With increased sandmining and entry of companies with heavy sandmining equipment, many of the indigenes have lost their livelihood source. Not only have they been replaced by the use of heavy equipment, but they cannot access their farm lands and water sources as a result of gullies created by the use of the heavy equipment. This has been a source of tensions and potential conflict in the area.
The training was therefore to help enhance knowledge and understanding so that community member could effectively negotiate and claim their entitlement.
In the Savanna Region, the training took place in the Yapei community with over 50 community leaders participating. Yapei is also a sandmining community and just as Kumbungu in the Northern Region, there are also increased tensions between community members and sandmining companies in the area as a result of lack of proper consultation, livelihood displacement, exclusion, lack of accountability and transparency in the operation of sandmining companies.
The training was therefore to help create awareness and understanding among community leaders of the requirements of the minerals and mining laws and their rights and entitlements so that they could engage effectively with sandmining companies for their fair share of the resources.