The Effect of Illegal Mining in my Community

Emmanuel — By Emmanuel from Ghana

Mining is the process of using machines to extract natural resources such as gold, diamond and bauxite from the ground. In my community, Tarkwa, in the western part of Ghana, mining is the most common work. Everywhere that you pass you will see people with shovel and basket looking for gold illegally.

In my community, you have to obtain a permit according to the laws of Ghana that allows you to mine but people whether they are ignorant or selfish have taken the decision to do mining illegally.

Illegal mining is digging for gold without permit and is against the law in my community and country.

As a result of this activity, the people of the community are paying heavily for the consequences of illegal mining.

Our water bodies have been polluted and therefore access to potable water for drinking or cooking are difficult to come by.

The fishermen in my community have been rendered jobless due to this illegal mining.

Properties have been destroyed​ as a result of these illegal mining activities.

Lands have been destroyed and people are forced to leave their houses because of flooding when it rains. This has also caused the spread of malaria.

Farms have been destroyed to be used for mining and this has brought reduction​ in the production of crops and vegetables in the community and a shortage of food in the community. People even go to the extent of trying to kill themselves​ for​ a plot of land. Buildings​ have been destroyed, stores have been closed down. Robbery has become​ common. People are afraid to go out for fear of being robbed.

A community which was once peaceful has become disorganized and destroyed as a result of this mining activity.

Mining is not bad when it is done in the right way by the right and qualified people. Mining is the process of extracting metals and minerals from earth legally with the permission of the authorities in the country. It becomes illegal when people do it without the right mechanism in place to protect the water bodies and reclaim the land for future use. Manganese, tantalum, cassiterite, copper, tin, nickel, bauxite (aluminum ore), iron ore, gold, silver, and diamonds are just some examples of what is mined here in Ghana.

The environmental impact of illegal mining includes erosion, the formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil ground water by the chemicals from the mining process.

The chemicals used in the mining process often escape the large scale pollution. There is no doubt that illegal mining activities have caused a great harm to my community. This is because most of the minerals are found in rivers. As a result, the mining companies often resort to blasting of rivers and their surroundings​ to enable them access to the minerals. This is done without caring about the effects and dangers this will have on the animals, farms, trees and the people in the community,

Sometimes the activities of these illegal miners release toxic substances into the rivers, causing a lot of diseases like cholera to the people in the community, especially those who drink and fish from it.

Deforestation is part of the damage caused by the mining activities which involves the clearing of farms and trees to enable miners to extract their minerals.

These illegal miners do not put measures in place that will safeguard them from getting infections, with the fact that they are unskilled and also use unprotected tools and equipment.

There are high level of drugs and alcoholism, prostitution, armed robbery and sexual abuse in the community as a result of this illegal mining activities.

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The Diary of an Entrepreneur

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— By Harvey from Malawi

“How much do you know about Malawi as a country? Probably very little. Experience everything about the country through Harvey’s eyes, a local who is traveling across the country, reporting for YaLa Africa Press. You might just like it!”

Youth unemployment! Youth unemployment! Youth unemployment! These days, everywhere I turn, it seems that the topic of the day is youth unemployment. I swear, I think one day I had a dream with a theme of youth unemployment. So, as one of the jubilant concerned youths in Malawi, I decided to do something about it. I have done what almost every person is doing these days, and that is to venture into entrepreneurship. Myself and a fellow concerned youth residing in another city have decided to start supplying goods, which are available in some city cities but are scarce in other cities.

It was only the first day of work, but I had already sensed something peculiar. At 10:30 in the morning, I waddled into the local bus station to send my merchandise to one of the cities in Malawi which is in desperate need of such products. To my surprise, I found more people than normal at the station. For a typical, local Malawian bus station which usually has a multitude of people, more than normal basically means a stampede. The place literary resembled a mass exodus of refugees. Later, I found out that there were no buses heading to the popular commercial city of Blantyre, and nobody seemed to know why. This had never happened before in my entire life, and being a superstitious person, I started suspecting that the universe was conspiring against the entrepreneur spirit in me. Instead of using a local bus to ferry my goods, I had to contract with a courier agent, which meant more expenses for my new business.

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These are the sort of challenges that small scale business people are facing on a daily basis in Malawi. Every stakeholder preaches entrepreneurship without ensuring that there is a conducive environment to ensure that entrepreneurship grows to become a viable alternative to growing unemployment concerns. As the sun was setting in Lilongwe, Malawi, I found myself looking forward to more experiences as I undertake this entrepreneurship challenge. Save for the troubling, tattered shape of the bus that was going to ferry my goods, I was almost sure my merchandise will reach its destination. I cannot help but feel optimistic for the future that lies ahead.