Providing additional knowledge to miners for the upkeep of the environment
Across Liberia, there is an increase in the number of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM). Even though those found in the sector are using their incomes to care for their respective families, the process is still damaging to the environment and forest-related communities. The Society for Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), with support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), and funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has conducted training for Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners on the new developed Handbook (Environment and social safeguards, legal framework) for the promotion of participatory environmental monitoring aimed at creating more awareness for the miners.
The one-day interactive training took place on July 7, 2022, in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County, and was categorized with remarks and presentations from UNDP Abraham Tumbey on the introduction to participatory environmental monitoring, Assistant Minister/MME, Johnson Willabo gave an overview of ASM in Liberia and objectives of the training, Ephraim Joefula, MME Consultant provided an overview of ASM, impacts, licensing, and best practices, Patricia Togba, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, presented on ASM and Gender, and Independent Human Rights Commission Bah Wah Brownell, spoke on human rights and ASM.
SCNL Executive Director, Michael F. Garbo, said it was good to see Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners, community dwellers, town chiefs, and local leaders gathered for this training. “We are aware of conservation, but the government has its own regulations, so these regulations are now placed into a handbook, read it, and respect the laws of the state. You are residing near protected areas, take the government’s regulation seriously, and stop going into protected areas for mining. Stay focused…and keep protecting the environment,” he said.
UNDP Abraham Tumbey further thanked the participants for their active participation during the training. He informed the gathering that the purpose of the training was to work with the miners to protect the water, communities, and the forest where they are mining. Mr. Tumbey reaffirms UNDP’s commitment to keep working with SCNL, FORMAL, MME, EPA, FDA, etc. for the protection of the environment.
Johnson Willabo, Assistant Minister/MME added that MME was happy to see miners being trained on how to mine well for the safety of the environment. “There are different types of mining, but Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining is creating a bit of a problem in Liberia. They’re not only creating an environmental issue, but a national security issue (with foreigners) coming into Liberia, mining, and being supported by Liberians. More than 200,000 Liberians are into Artisanal and Small-Scale, and this handbook produced is to help each of you spread the good messages of smart mining. Liberia holds more than 40% of the remaining forest in the Upper Guinea area. We have to do everything to maintain it”.
FDA, Attorney Roland Lepol, on behalf of REDD+ thanked SCNL, UNDP, MME, and all the partners who worked in preparing the handbook. Attorney Lepol also extended appreciation to the local leadership for the high level of cooperation when it comes to preserving the forest. “FDA and REDD+ are working with SCNL to implement projects in forest communities for the protection of the forest. To those present here today, read the handbook, listen to the presenters and keep encouraging the citizens to maintain the forest so it can’t be eradicated”.
Thomas Cassell, President, Federation of Miners Association of Liberia (FORMAL), in a remark, told the gathering that if the environment is to be maintained, Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners must change the way they mine. “Diamonds and gold will decline, but the environment will remain. We have to do everything possible to preserve our environment for the future. I challenged all of us who have converged here today to acquire more knowledge from the training so as to serve as ambassadors, who will effectively propagate these messages to the rest of the miners across Liberia,” Mr. Cassell pointed out.
In a closing remark, EPA Salimatu Lamin-Gilayeneh thanked the guests and everyone for their participation and hopes what was learned will be passed on to other communities.
In a related development, on July 9, 2022, SCNL, UNDP, forest community residents, Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners, town chiefs, and elders held a Participatory Environmental Monitoring Committee meeting in Fornor, Grand Cape Mount County. Participants conducted an election, and four individuals (Chairman, co-chairman, secretary-general, and chapel) were elected to lead the affairs of the 15-member committee. The new leadership will work along with the team members to monitor mining activities and report to SCNL and other partners.