By Ansu Kofi Richard, B/A
Mrs. Hanna Owusu Koranteng, an Associate Executive Director for WACAM, has stated that local Communities tend to face adverse social-environmental impacts from mining Operations, rather than livelihood improvements.
She said, issues such as pollution of water bodies, unlawful destructions of farmlands and properties, unlawful arrests and detention of community members, who voice out their disapproval about these violations, low level of consultation of host communities before and during the various stages of mining activities are but a few, of the various rights violations experienced across most mining communities.
She noted this at a workshop organized by WACAM, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ASEP) and IBIS with support from DANIDA, who is undertaking an innovative project called ‘OUR MINERAL RESOURCE’ which will train a network of local community people -Minewathcers, and equip them with devices that can support community reporting on violation of human rights or other adverse environmental impacts near mining operations by using ICT solution.
Notwithstanding these inhumane acts meted out to the affected community people, they are also faced with the challenge of not having access to simple grievance mechanisms, where they can report violation of community rights or other irregularities she added.
Mrs Hanna Owusu Koranteng, noted that it has emerged in an instance where these violations are reported they mostly met with delayed or no response from the regulatory bodies or the mining companies. In the other hand the legal system is costly, slow and requires technical capacity and therefore it is normally not an option for most communities.
Again she added that, new social mobilization and means of reporting violation of rights needs to be developed to make the abundant natural resources in Ghana a blessing but not a curse while a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can provide mining affected communities with better access to information and voice their concerns and complaints via social media and other internet platforms.
Stressing on the new social means of reporting she mentioned that, Innovative application of ICT holds the potential to establish efficient ways of disseminating information, mobilizing people and communicating inter-actively between different vertical groups.
These new ICT opportunities can be used not only to report violation of right instantly, but also the ability to mobilize outside civil society, students, media and other stakeholders as observers at the community, national and global level which can prevent violation of rights and support advocacy work for responsible mining to the benefit of poor people Mrs. Hanna Owusu Koranteng added.
This innovative projects is currently being piloted in two Districts, the Asutifi North in the Brong Ahafo region and Fanteakwa District in the Eastern region.
Finally she added, It is expected that supporting mining affected mining communities through innovative application of new information and communication Technology (ICT) to report violation of their rights, will influence mining companies and government officials to be accountable to affected communities and mobilize national and global support for fair and responsible mining to the benefit of the country.
The emerging trends of mineral contribution to the gross domestic product of the country GDP is as follows, from 2009 mineral contributed only 2.1 percent, in 2010 minerals added 1.8 to GDP, in 2011 minerals contributed 1.7 percent to GDP while 2012 minerals put in 2.0 percent, in 2013 minerals added 1.8 percent and in 2014 minerals adversely contributed only 0.8 percent.