Action Aid has introduced a two year project aimed at promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive sector for equitable and sustainable development in Malawi.
Commenting on the new development, Action Aid Mining Project Coordinator, Elyvin Nkhonjera faulted the current situation saying there are a lot of lapses on the ground which is leading to poor mining activities taking place in various districts.
“Currently, factors such as fragmented roles of civil society organisations, lack of stakeholder engagement at community level, lack of progressive legal framework on mining and lack of trust between industry, government and civil society organisations are compromising the mining sector in the country,” said Nkhonjera.
According to Nkhonjera, the purpose of the new project is to improve collective action amongst civil society organisation actors and communities for effective advocacy on accountability and transparency in the extractive industry in Malawi.
The project aims at ensuring that there is increased technical capacity of member civil society organisations on issues of mining and increased capacity of vulnerable groups to influence decisions on issues of mining at community level. Among other things, the project will also include activities such as formulation of a steering committee on mining in the district, conducting research to identify capacity gaps and establishing local mining communities’ reflection action circles as platforms of learning and empowering local communities to monitor mining activities in terms of opportunities and threats.
Recently, mining controversies rocked the country with mining organizations entering different mining deals without following proper procedures and exploiting the available resources and surrounding communities.
Phalombe is also one of the districts where various mining activities are taking place. Optichem, a fertiliser manufacturing company entered into one such mining contract where it was allowed to start mining phosphate at Nambazo. Communities discovered the project to be non beneficial to them and the district since the company kept on mining the mineral without rendering any social responsibility services in return.
Such mining contracts are entered without the organisations conducting a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment Survey, thereby compromising the health of the community around the mining site.