The late Jonah Mngola’s report on finding and hearing Artisanal Small Scale Miners in Kenya, making them visible to policy-makers.

About this report

One year after the passing of our Programmes Manager, Extractives, the late Jonah Mngola, we now release a report that he had been working on up until his last day on earth. He did not get to publish it, but we eventually found the strength to pick up where he left off, and publish it as a way to remember him and honour his life’s work. 


In Jonah's words

“Honestly I find it unconscionable that in 2019 we could have people scratching at the earth for a pittance with their bare hands – no gloves, no shoes – in the hot sun, and with no equipment to increase their productivity. Yet they are mining some of the most valuable jewels that make rich people feel beautiful. Surely, they should feel worthy? These are my people. I want them to be seen, I want them to be heard. I want their lives to change. Si you find time, we go there and you will see them?”

Aug, 19, 2019


Al Kags
Al Kags
Executive Director, Open Institute.

Jonah’s unexpected passing threw our team for a loop. The majority of us took a long time to come to terms with it and it was hard to get back to his work on extractives – to pick up where he held off. 

Now as we remember him for his generosity of spirit, for his patience and kindness, we cannot fail to remember his passion and how much he cared for Artisanal Small Scale Miners in Kenya. We finally found the strength to open his files again and complete the work that he had started. 

Jonah was always clear about what needs to happen in Kenya. That ultimately, ASMs should be able to work productively (meaning that they should get fair incomes for their hard-earned work) and safely (meaning that they should have dignity as they work – proper dressing, equipment and structures to help their work places be safe.)

For this to happen, government and social organisations must see the circumstances facing ASMs, have precise data about them and use that data to act on their needs and priorities. 

Data are an important prerequisite for the sustainable development of the ASM sector. Whereas the goal is to have everyone in the sector working with dignity, the kinds of support that different people need is different. Women need different support from men and youth need more support than older miners. 

Through this scoping exercise, we have been able to understand how we could use data to make visible every ASM in Kenya. 

What we are hoping for is that we shall collaborate with governments (both county and national) to make sure that Artisanal Small Scale miners count – and are counted. It is time that we stopped working with estimates and find a way to work with the ASMs to collect and share their own citizen data.

We hope to collaborate with private sector players in the area to create methods that provide ASMs with inclusive action – financial literacy, civic literacy and even basic literacy where it is needed. 

We are intent on working towards Jonah’s vision for ASMs – and we are glad to call them, Jonah’s miners.

More of the report

Authors & Contributors

  1. Jonah Mngola
  2. Benjamin Charagu
  3. Eng. Peter Sholo, Taita Taveta
  4. George Otieno, Migori & Vihiga
  5. Mary Alwangi, Kakamega
  6. Ivy Gathu
  7. Esther Njagi
  8. Prolyne Nancy