Despite the huge revenue generated in the mining sector, many mining communities in the country remain under-developed.
In 2016, Parliament passed the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act, to accelerate and promote socio-economic development in mining communities to address pertinent challenges in the allocation and utilisation of mineral royalties and its potential in promoting development the country mining communities.
Unfortunately, the Act has not been able to address among others, misuse of mining royalties, encourage local participation as well as increase transparency and accountability and judicious use of mining royalties and management to push development in mining communities.
Most affected mining communities in the country seemed to have no or little knowledge about the MDF.
To address the situation Wacam, a civil society organisation in collaboration with Ford Foundation and the International Budget Partnership (IBP), NGOs are implementing a project aimed at promoting local participation in the utilization of mineral revenues at the local level.
Speaking at a stakeholder’s forum in Sunyani, mining communities in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality in the Western and Asutifi North District in the Ahafo regions regretted that they were often neglected in decision making processes in the utilisation of mining revenues at the local level.
According to the affected mining communities, there were no opportunities for residents to make inputs in the execution of development projects in their respective communities.
Organised by Wacam in line with the implementation of the project, the forum discussed pertinent development challenges in mining communities, and empowered local communities to develop interest in the utilisation of mining royalties and revenue.
Mr Adusah Yakubu, a resident of Kenyasi in Asutifi North District called for effective engagement between District Assemblies and local communities in addressing the development needs of the local people.
“Development in our mining communities is appalling and the government must do something about that. We understand huge royalties are being paid to the Assemblies, but we don’t see the benefits in our localities”, Mr Akwasi Aduakwa, a resident of Tarkwa Nsuem stated.
Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, underscored the importance for local authorities to establish linkages with communities so as to ensure that assessment needs were always conducted before execution of development projects in mining communities.
She said though revenues from the mineral resources contribute significantly to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), mining communities on the continent continued to experience slow economic growth, human rights abuses and violence.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said irresponsible mining had displaced many residents in mining communities, and worsened their socio-economic livelihood.
“This situation has increased the marginalisation of communities affected by mining and led to food insecurity, breakdown of social systems and access to common resources and public service”, she said.
Mr Yaw Atuburoah, a researcher said it would be in their interest, if District Assemblies engage mining communities in the development process, and the utilization of the MDF, and called on the Assemblies to do that regularly.
Mr James Ata-Era, the Planning Officer of the Asutifi North District Assembly, regretted the MDF had not make any budgetary allocation for community engagements, adding that, many community members had little interest, and also failed to attend or participate in the Assembly’s town hall meetings.