Fight against galamsey must be sustained

The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has lauded the national campaign to end the illegal mining popular known as galamsey.

Pledging its unflinching support to fight, the Energy think tank said: “One major impediment to the success of these efforts has been the invisible powers behind illegal mining.”

“Some of the faces that show up in the day against galamsey are also the same ones that are, at night, behind the dredging of river bodies, the destruction of cocoa farms and the abandoned pits that serve as death traps in many mining communities,” the statement added.

 Below is the full statement

ACEP EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY TO THE FIGHT AGAINST “GALAMSEY” 

AND ITS NEGATIVE IMPACTS IN GHANA

10th April, 2017

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) supports the emerging national consensus to deal with illegal small scale mining (“galamsey”) in Ghana. The uncontrolled destruction of the environment for precious minerals, particularly gold, highlights a collective irresponsibility of small scale miners, chiefs, politicians, land sector agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), security agencies and other relevant regulators of the sector who look on while lives, lands, water bodies and cash crops are destroyed to the detriment of both current and unborn generations.

There are ongoing efforts to respond to the President’s declaration to address the challenges posed by “galamsey”. The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources recently issued a moratorium on licensing to small scale operators and a freeze on all small scale mining activities. While these efforts are in the right direction, it must be noted that similar efforts by past governments were not successful due to the complexity of the problem at hand. One major impediment to the success of these efforts has been the invisible powers behind illegal mining activities. Some of the faces that show up in the day against “galamsey” are also the same ones that are, at night, behind the dredging of river bodies, the destruction of cocoa farms and the abandoned pits that serve as death traps in many mining communities.

If current efforts will be successful, responsibility must be placed right where it belongs. We cannot win the battle against “galamsey” if those held accountable live in Accra and are out of touch with suffering communities. The Central Government must decentralize accountability to Chiefs, District Chief Executives, Local-level leadership of the EPA, District Commanders of the state’s Security Agencies, as well as other duty bearers in the sector. These must have primary responsibility for the sustenance of the environment and be required to give account of their stewardship to local communities and the Central Government. Central Government must however be on the beat to support local authorities with security reinforcement and logistics when needed. Civil Society groups and the general public must also provide the needed oversight to keep all duty bearers in check.

ACEP has already taken steps to ensuring that Ghana’s mineral resources have transformative effects on local communities. Over the past two years, ACEP has piloted a mining portal that provides real time, GPS verifiable information on mining activities.

The platform, www.ourmineralresource.org, has so far been used to gather real time data on mining impacts in the Fanteakwa and Asutifi Districts through community volunteers using smart devises.

It is refreshing to see the public rise to demand a stop to “galamsey”, particularly from the media. This has to be sustained and taken to the communities to garner open declarations of support from Chiefs and other community leaders. To this end, ACEP shall remain committed to support this process by opening its mining portal to the public, and work together with volunteers to expand the project to other districts. With this tool, and through the support of Ghanaians, ACEP can support advocacy efforts to address the “galamsey” problem in Ghana’s mining sector.

We encourage all Ghanaians to get involved in the fight against “galamsey”. We must rest not until the desired outcomes are achieved.

Signed

Benjamin Boakye

Deputy Executive Director

 

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