By Paa Kwesi Agyefi

Friends of the Nation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has announced the implementation of a new project to promote change in the livelihoods of youth engaged in Illegal Mining (Galamsey) in the Western Region.

Small-Scale-Miner_Ghana_PhotoCredit_FoNThe one year project which is supported by Direct Aid Program (DAP) of the Australian High Commission, seeks to deepen the understanding and raise awareness of the factors that drive young people into illegal mining in the country.

The Western Region is known to have high concentration of illegal small-scale mining activities. The situation is of great concern to community members, local government and traditional authorities as ?galamsey? is hazardous to young people?s health and wellbeing, involving arduous working conditions, exposure to dangerous substances including mercury, and lack of health and safety protections. It also contributes to environmental degradation.
Small-scale mining supports the livelihoods of over 1,000,000 people in Ghana. In 2013, it contributed to 34% of Ghana?s gold production. Unfortunately, the vast majority ? over 70% ? of small-scale miners in the country operate illegally due to a number of constraints, including lack of access to viable lands, difficulties in the licensing process, and inadequate support services.

Meanwhile, at a press conference recently, the leadership of FoN observed they have come to terms that many were the reasons that make illegal mining attractive to the youth with poverty and lack of viable economic alternatives in rural areas playing a major role.

As part of the project activities, FoN would develop a documentary together with the young miners to help them reflect on why they are involved in galamsey.

It would also develop recommendations for civil society, government and international donors for the development and implementation of more appropriate policies and programmes.

FoN would also facilitate the identification of livelihood options available to the vulnerable through sensitization workshops and a pilot livelihood enhancement and diversification programme.

Upon that FoN would pick and train 80 young men and women to develop a sustainable diversified livelihood scheme them.

?Due to the decline of the agriculture sector and other reasons, young people, especially in rural areas, often have few or no alternatives to sustain themselves and their families. They turn to galamsey as they do not see any other viable source of income?, Donkris Mevuta, Executive Director of Friends of the Nation noted in her speech.
She added that FoN, promotes ?diversified livelihoods? rather than ?alternative livelihoods? because ?you can?t just take people out of a job they have been doing for years overnight? adding that livelihood programmes should actually be made viable and of interest to young people in these communities.

She said her organization would collaborate with the District Assembly and Traditional Authorities in the area, both of whom have expressed their interest to supporting the implementation of the project.

Friends of the Nation is socio-environmental advocacy NGO based in the Western Region. FoN operates in the thematic areas of Resource Governance, Population, Health and Environment Education (PHE), Local Governance and Business Advocacy.

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