The late Jonah Mngola’s report on finding and hearing Artisanal Small Scale Miners in Kenya, making them visible to policy-makers.
COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO COMBAT THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON ARTISANAL MINING GROUPS
By June 2020, COVID-19 had disrupted the livelihood of local communities significantly; some lost loved ones not just due to the pandemic but through other causes. But they were unable to observe cultural burial practices due to COVID-19 restrictions on numbers allowed at gravesites.
An interesting observation ASMs across the three counties was that mining groups, when fully operational, actively sought to improve their own livelihoods and those of the surrounding communities. The respondents noted that their efforts to improve this remained the same as of October 2021 though many of these restrictions have been lifted.
In Western Kenya, it was common to find that they were keen on bringing about some sort of development or improvement of livelihoods for their surrounding communities. This was either through y paying school fees for those that were less fortunate or through the construction of a classroom.
Additionally, members of the communities gather funds together through small fundraisers and use the funds to build homes and toilets. In Taita-Taveta few groups have engaged in CSR activities for their surrounding communities.
Still, miners remained resilient throughout the pandemic, they informed us of some measures they have taken to try and cushion themselves from the effects of the pandemic.
A few mining groups reported having received support from private organizations or NGOs, in so far as PPE’s. We sought to find out what support mining groups would like to receive from either government or private stakeholders.The majority of the respondents identified that machinery and equipment were the most important needs to them. This was still the case when interviews were conducted in October 2021.
Markets were the second most important need to their groups. They cited a lot of interference by middlemen and cartels, or brokers in so far as determining product prices. Mining groups felt that given the chance, if they could sell their minerals directly to local or international markets, this would give them a better vantage point and fair value for their minerals.
Mining groups then identified finances as the third most important need for them, followed by financial literacy, then food and water.
Geological information though a need, together with access to electricity, formalisation (issuance of licenses and permits) came in as some of the last priorities but equally as valuable.