Photo acknowledgement: J. Pather


Ghana

Clash on the land – Mining destroys farming life in Ghana

 

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Ntotroso is a farming community in Asunafo North District in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana. The community derives its name from the Ntotro River, which is a major source of water for drinking, sanitation and irrigation farming. The town was founded in 1768 and is 40 minutes’ drive from Sunyani, the capital of Brong-Ahafo. Ntotroso shares boundaries with communities in Acherensua to the north, Gyedu to the south, Ahafo to the east and west to the Keyansi. The only health centre serving the community is at Gyedu, which is some distance away.

Mining activities are carried out by multinational companies and small scale miners in most rural communities in Ghana. These activities have been detrimental to the lives of most people in those communities. Farmers, many of them women, have lost their lands to the miners, fresh water sources have been polluted and biodiversity disrupted, with attendant negative health effects. Many people have also been reported killed as a direct consequence of the pits created by the miners. Increases in rates of alcoholism, prostitution, rape, school dropout have been reported. The Ghanaian government and other associated institutions have proffered a number of interventionist programs as a result of these problems.

In response, ECASARD and WoMin collaborated and implemented a participatory research project focusing on the negative impacts of large scale gold mining by Newmont Mining Corporation on women farmers in Ntotroso.

 

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Ntotroso community today

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A building damaged by blasting

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Polluted water source caused by Newmont and a sign post warning people not to drink from, or swim in the dam

 

Research findings and key issues

  • Women were not consulted by the mining companies before their lands were leased. This was corroborated by the Queen Mother, Nana Kwartemaa Amponsah. She also complained about the lack of adequate compensation to affected women.

  • Women complained of the lack of opportunities for women in the mining companies’ workforce.

  • The women were deprived of their lands with nothing to fall back on.

  • Faced with dire economic conditions, many of the women resorted to prostitution to survive.

  • Displaced and disposed, many women were stranded with no form of resettlement, rehabilitation or government assistance.

  • Personnel at the Gyedu Clinic in the community reported illnesses related to water-borne diseases.

  • Women are poorly informed or have no knowledge of the country’s mining regulations.

 

Recommendations

  • Appeal to the government to make mining laws accessible to the citizens of the country, especially women.

  • Create alternative livelihoods for all those whose lands have been expropriated

  • Provide long term compensation instead of oneoff compensation to the affected people. This is the responsibility of the mining company.

  • Consult with those having been resettled to the end of improving their situations.

  • Encourage woman to participate in negotiations for compensations benefits

  • Develop eco-friendly mining activities that are not hazardous to people or community dwellers

  • Create a system to monitor and evaluate the activities of the mining companies.

  • Involve entire affected communities in the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

  • Create employment opportunities for women and girls.