Activist group condemns mining atrocities in Northern Ghana

Coleman Agyeyomah, Executive Director of Innovate Development Alternatives (IDEAs), addressing participants.
Coleman Agyeyomah, Executive Director of Innovate Development Alternatives (IDEAs), addressing participants.

Members of The Forum on Mining Governance and Activism in Northern Ghana have voiced their displeasure against some human-rights abuses and environmental degradation that are reportedly being perpetrated by foreign mining companies in some communities in Northern Ghana.

The activist group also has announced its resolve to advocate the rights of such communities and hold to account the mining companies that are operating in those areas.

The group’s position is contained in a communiqué issued to the press at the close of a 3-day forum organised by the Third World Network- Africa (TWN-Africa) in partnership with the Coalition of Social Movement on Mining in the Upper East Region (CSMM Upper East) and the Innovate Development Alternatives (IDEAs).

The conference, held in the Upper East Region’s capital, Bolgatanga, was themed: “Mining Governance, Community Rights and Activism in Northern Ghana.”

“The forum shared lessons and discussed the mining situation in Northern Ghana. Based on the lessons and the discussions, the forum observed the following: Historically, agriculture, namely the production of food and livestock, is an important economic and livelihood activity in Northern Ghana; increased activities of mining in Northern Ghana with increasing involvement of foreign mining companies, operated mainly by Chinese mining firms; the expansion of mining activities and the increased involvement of foreign mining companies in the region is accompanied by destruction of the environment, violation of the rights of local communities, dispossession of land and general social disorganisation; and communities participating in the forum listed instances of violations of their rights.

“The Forum condemned the atrocities against the environment and communities and expressed solidarity for all victims of these atrocities. Participants at the forum are united in our resolve to advocate for the protection of the environment, upholding of community rights and holding institutions and mining companies to account. Participants have also resolved to establish a framework for working together in addressing the challenges imposed by the corporate culture of mining in the region,” the communiqué said.

There is Space in the Constitution to Fight Back― Dr. Yao Graham

Welcoming the participants to the programme, the Executive Director of the Savannah Research and Advocacy Network (SRAN), Yen Nyeya, said the idea of the forum was to help communities to come together and support each other to effectively tackle mining-related issues in the region. He emphasised the need for teamwork and advised the participating organisations to see the campaign as a sacrifice they needed to make in the interest of their communities.

Sharing more of the objectives of the forum, the Executive Director of IDEAS, Coleman Agyeyomah, said the meeting was to serve as a platform for members to “learn first-hand experiences from organisations working around mining issues in the Upper East Region; identify the strengths, effectiveness, weakness and challenges of participating organisations and how they can participate in mining governance issues; and to develop prioritised start-up activities.”

On his part, the TWN-Africa’s Coordinator, Dr. Yao Graham, observed that whilst gold brought splendour to some people, it also in many cases caused untold misery to the communities where the mineral resource was being evacuated from. He cited Talensi (a mining district in the Upper East Region) as an example of such communities to buttress that point.

“We live in a world where the powerful like to get away with things. However, there is space in the Constitution to fight back. There is space; so, we need to take advantage of it to expand and build activism. There is the need to build relevant knowledge on mining situation in our communities.

“Combining local knowledge and knowledge on mining policies and laws is key. The effectiveness of this struggle depends on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of organisations that network with others. Participants agreeing on the priorities and next steps after the forum is very critical,” Dr. Graham stated.

The forum saw representatives of mining communities in the region draw attention to some happenings in their respective areas in relation to mining. A number of resource persons also took turns delivering a talk on the theme for the forum.

The resource persons include Dr. Charles Abugri (the Board Chairman of the TAMA Foundation) and Chrys Anab (the Executive Director of the TAMA Foundation) who made a joint presentation on “Importance/Relevance of Stakeholder Collaborative Work on Mining Governance and Activism and Way Forward”. A legal practitioner, Awudu Issah Mahmudu, touched on “Legal and Security Considerations for Mining Governance and Activism”.  Dr. Abdulai Darimani, a private consultant, treated “Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Policies: Issues for Community Benefits” and “Regulating the Environmental and Social Impact of Mining― Issues and Challenges”.

Edward Adeti, an investigative journalist with The Fourth Estate/Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), dealt with “The Role of the Media in the Mining Struggles in Northern Ghana and the Way Forward”. Mr Agyeyomah delivered a presentation on “The Role of IDEAS in Mining Governance and Activism and the Way Forward”. Mr Nyeya talked about “The Role of SRAN in the Mining Struggles and Way Forward on Mining Governance in Northern Ghana”.

Source: Daily Mail GH

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