There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in utilisation of the nation’s Mineral Development Fund (MDF) at the local level, so as to ensure an all-inclusive growth and development agenda in mining affected communities, concerned NGOs have advocated.
The NGOs include Makers Network Foundation, Indigenous Youth Alliance Ghana and the Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), which are of the view that there is misplaced priority in management and utilisation of the fund – hence the increasing level of poverty and public agitation across mining communities in the country.
Parliament in 2016 passed the Mineral Development Fund (MDF) Act (Act 912) to regulate and govern the distribution of portions of mineral royalties to local government and mining development institutions, and as well as to provide a legal basis for such distribution.
Passage of the Act came on the backdrop of over two decades of the Fund’s establishment and its implementation, following an executive decision in 1993 for the provision of mineral funds for mining communities to undertake development projects. Ideally, MDF-funded projects should aim at mitigating the effects of mining on the environment, as well as support the operating budgets of mining regulatory institutions and mineral-specific projects.
However, the Executive Director of Makers Network Foundation, Eunice Ntiwaa Yeboah, said there has been systemic failure in the management of the Minerals Fund to facilitate equitable and impactful socioeconomic initiatives at the local level.
For instance, women and the youth, she explained, are not fairly represented on key decision-taking bodies such as the Mining Community Development Scheme to promote their interest; adding that the situation has compounded the economic woes of women and youth populations in mining areas.
Addressing a news conference in Sunyani, Ms. Yeboah cited the Asutifi North district in the Ahafo Region (host of Newmont Ahafo Mine) as a case study. She said lack of economic opportunities for rural women and youth in the district epitomises the broader perspective across the country – explaining that most women who lost farmlands to the mine are yet to receive befitting alternative livelihoods to make them productive.
She further pointed out that inadequate compensation for destroyed properties by mining, coupled with high level of mismanagement and inequitable utilisation of limited resources, underpin the need for involving women and youth in managing the MDF in Asutifi North to change the narrative.
In a related development, the three groups held a training workshop for selected women and youth on the Mineral Development Fund Act (Act 912) 2016. The participants, numbering 50, were selected from mining affected communities including Kenyasi No. 1, Kenyasi No.2, Ntotroso, Dormaa-Katinka, Gyedu and Ola Resettlement camps. The empowerment training forms part of a Global Green Grant Fund sponsored advocacy project, championing the need for women and youth involvement in managing the MDF.
The Planning Officer of Asutifi North District Assembly, James Ata-Era Akularemi, in a presentation indicated that the Assembly has “judiciously” uses its share of the fund with the bulk going into provision of basic infrastructural projects for sanitation, health and education in the communities. Between the year 2012 to 2019, the Asutifi North Assembly received at total of GH¢12,111,879 as revenue from the mineral development fund.
Commenting on this, Ms. Yeboah observed that excessive use of the MDF for infrastructural projects is an affront to sustainable economic growth and development of the affected mining communities – emphasising that mining host-assemblies must rethink that decision and conduct broader needs assessment to ensure holistic economic development for the people.
On his part, Raphael Godlove Ahenu-CEO of GLOMEF, called for a comprehensive review of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703) and introduction of the relevant legislative Instruments to ensure effective implementation of the Act to, among others, promote the development rights of mining communities.
He urged the assemblies to organise more vocational and skills-based initiatives that economically empower women and youth groups to achieve collective participation, explaining that Assemblies should allocate a portion of the MDF budget specifically for women and youth empowerment.