This is a community capacity building project. The project seeks to organise, inform and mobilise communities that are affected by mining activities to engage mining companies and governments (local, provincial and national) to ensure that they benefit (socially and economically) from the extraction and commercialisation of resources.
Southern Africa has an abundance of strategic mineral resources. For the past four years SARW has undertaken studies, together with local organisations, to assess the impact of mining on the life of communities in almost all OSISA’s 10 countries. These studies have revealed that most communities and towns that surround mining activities do not benefit from mining. Mining companies’ corporate social responsibilities are not changing the life of communities; and governments do not retrocede part of the money they collect as royalties and other taxes to local communities.
These communities remain poor and lacking in basic infrastructure. Most of them have very poor access to running water and electricity; community roads are never maintained and health and education infrastructure are inadequate to provide proper primary care and schooling. Governments pay little attention to their living conditions and do not investigate the side-effects of mining on these communities. In all our countries, organized civil society groups are involved in advocacy work to raise awareness of the plight of these communities.
This advocacy is not changing circumstances of these communities. It is against this background that SARW wants to invest in training and organizing mining communities to undertake their own advocacy. It is our belief that advocacy led by the affected communities could prove sustainable and effective. The approach to social accountability driven by organic civil society (which is a top down approach) is not working. Bottom-up community-led social accountability mechanisms have proven to be versatile, adaptable, and highly effective in enhancing development prospects across communities, which have adopted them.
Social accountability strategies and tools will help empower ordinary citizens to exercise their inherent rights to hold governments and companies to account. The project will strengthen capacities of these communities to engage and monitor the activities of mining companies and how governments are managing revenues they collect from extractive industries.
It will help communities to design advocacy actions to protect themselves against human right abuses by extractive companies. Three countries will benefit from this training namely: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and Zambia. In the DRC, the project will focus on two communities, Fungurume community which lives in the concession owned by Freeport McMoRan, an American company that owns the biggest copper reserves in the world, and the Moanda community which lives adjacent to oil extraction by the French company Perenco in the Bas Congo province.
In Mozambique the project will focus on coal extraction by Vale (Brazilian) and Rio Tinto, (Australian), in Central Tete province in the Moatize and Mucanha - Vuzi coal basins, specifically at Capanga village, still to be resettled. In Zambia, SARW will train the Luanshya community in the copper belt. Luanshya mine is currently owned by the Chinese company Luanshya Copper Mine (CLM) which is involved in a project called Mulyashi open pit.
Mining communities, because of lack of knowledge, accept the negative impact of mining activities without any form of resistance. Many times communities are removed from their land without adequate compensation, water and air are polluted, and biodiversity, cultural heritage, and local livelihoods are destroyed. Equally, mining communities do not benefit from mining taxes and royalties that industries pay to governments. Extractive industries and governments take advantage of people's ignorance and lack of organisation to undermine their rights.
The project main goal is to build the capacity of local communities for self-mobilisation to promote justice and fairness in the distribution of benefits from extractive industries.
The specific objectives will include:
- To build robust leadership that can mobilise communities for collective actions
- To empower communities with basic knowledge about mining and its impact
- To empower communities with research, advocacy and lobbying skills
- To create a community forum