Solidaridad, an international civil society organisation is to educate over 200, 000 miners in Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d’lvoire by 2023 through its language barrier-bridging Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform.
Mr Yaw Britwum Opoku, Gold Programme Manager at Solidaridad said it was to adopt best mining practices to improve on health, safety, environmental and business practices of small-scale miners.
Mr Opoku in a statement said the platform was also aimed at up scaling the activities of the gold programme to reach a lot of miners nationwide and in some parts of Africa.
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) being largely an informal sector with limited access to information on responsible mining practices and sustainable production, operations in remote areas which makes deployment of interventions to improve the sector challenges.
He said although many interventions were implemented to help the mines, there were never enough resources to reach every miner, with existing interventions mostly in English, and excluded a large segment of the mining population, who do not speak English.
He said to close the gap, Solidaridad, through its gold programme, which seeks to promote responsible and sustainable small-scale mining in Ghana, developed the IVR platform to educate artisanal and small-scale gold miners on responsible mining practices.
The IVR platform is compatible with basic feature and android phones and allowed the target audience to receive pre-recorded messages in real time without the need for face-to-face contact.
He said miners received phone calls to assist do an evaluation of their practices in a local dialect, twi– which was spoken in many of the beneficiary communities.
They also received practical guidelines on responsible mining practices, such as safe working conditions, responsible use of mercury and environmental management.
All the guidelines are in line with the Farming Standard, which was a set of requirements for artisanal and small-scale mining to perform responsible mining.
He said they also met the Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale miners engaging in Formal Trade, which helped them to assess critical social and environmental risks, such as child labour, illicit trade, and uncontrolled use of chemicals and developed action plans to address them.
“So far, Solidaridad’s gold programme has used the IVR platform to engage over 1,000 miners in Ghana,” he said.
Mr Philip Baidoo, Health and safety manager, Beava Mining Enterprise, Nkatieso said “the IVR platform has helped in improving our work as miners.
Through the messages we receive, we have been able to put in place stringent safety measures to protect our workers,”
He said aside using the IVR platform to educate miners on responsible mining practices, Solidaridad also used it to sensitize miners on the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said a gold digital suite of which the IVR platform was a component was developed by Solidaridad to generate tailored work plans that miners could follow at their own pace to improve on their efforts to mine responsibly and also provide information to regulatory bodies on mines’ compliance to set standards.
The other components of the digital suite are an android-based application to help mine managers track responsible mining practices at their mining sites and a web dashboard for key stakeholders, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Commission to track the activities of small-scale mines nationwide.
These digital tools will help Solidaridad engage its beneficiaries at each level and by this, Solidaridad can create pathways for mines to understand best practices and how to adopt them.
Solidaridad’s gold programme focuses on improving the livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale miners to promote social impacts, inclusive business, and safety practices through the adoption of international best practices.