Africa has the largest mineral reserves in the world and the poorest continent at the same time. Although many companies have mined her resources, there isn’t much to show for improved livelihood in the lives of Africans. Mining being the most significant form of extractive industries, has been the major source of conflicts (case of Sudan, DRC, Chad), environmental degradation, destruction of social fabric in the society, diseases, death and poverty.
In any case, African leaders have been accomplice to such heinous acts that have been perpetuated by Multi-National Companies that are mining in Africa. In many cases, out of every K100 realised from mining, only K5 remains in Africa fuelling a spiral of poverty amidst expectations for improvement in quality of life. For the failure to uplift people’s lives, abundance of minerals in Africa has been dubbed a ‘ Resources Curse’.
Now that mining is surely taking the centre stage of the economic development of this country, Actionaid has taken some steps to learn about the industry and how it has affected poverty in other countries with a similar background to Malawi and prepare our communities for their response to the industry.
Currently, the industry is contributing 10% of the GDP and is rising to 20% by 2016. The second major mining project will be opened in 2013 in Kanyika just on the peripheral of Khosolo DA. Apart from niobium, the mine will also produce uranium.
Suffice to say that ActionAid has over the last four years supported the formation of a loose mining network of civil society organisations in Malawi and a more formal global network of organisations for the protection of Africa’s natural resources.
The campaigns and Advocacy function attended a parallel Mining Indaba in Cape Town where civil society were countering the meeting of mining giants as they were agreeing on which countries to invest their monies in mining. Mining Departments from across Africa were there making offers.
Civil society sent representatives to juggle on behalf of the poor within the high level meeting backed by the parallel indaba of civil society in the neighbouring block.
With funding from PSO through NIZA and channelled through IANRA, Actionaid organised two mobilisation meetings for communities in Kanyika and Karonga. For Kanyika, the major aim was to mobilise communities and build their capacity on the mining cycle.
The idea is that with information they can be able to confront the investor and government and bargain for fairer deals.
The communities should be able to engage both the company and government to ask for nothing less than a better living in the resettlement than before. This was also a scoping opportunity for AAIM to enable us develop a longer term programme for the area. 35 people were drawn to Nkhamenya for a two day meeting.
Representatives from across the district were met with focus on people from around Kayerekela and Mwabulambo (coal is being mined here).
The major outcome is for ActionAid to support their monitoring capacity. Quite a number of critical issues were raised. Most of the CSOs that were active four years ago in Karonga are nowhere to be seen. The communities feel betrayed.