By Kenneth Matimaire
Penhalonga, September 19, 2016 – ELDERLY women from Penhalonga have joined hands to address a number of mining related social ills affecting the mineral rich area.
The group of 10 women is part of a community building project being spearheaded by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) to restore sanity within communities threatened by mining related conflicts.
The project has three phases that equip women to identify challenges attributed to mining activities, engage and demand solutions from respective authorities.
They have since completed the first phase, Participatory Action Research (PAR), which commenced in August 2015 where they identified a wide range of mining related societal ills.
These ranged from mining related deaths, prostitution to early child marriages.
“Following our training by CNRG, we have realised that our community has been under great threat as a result of mining activities here. We continue to lose our youths as a result of unfavourable mining activities. We no longer have fields for agriculture, our daughters are turning to prostitution and cases of early child marriages are very high.
“All this is linked to mining activities since Penhalonga is solely mining dependent and we have taken it upon ourselves to restore order in our community,” said PAR coordinator Joseline Musiyazviriyo.
Another member, Margaret Sande said they have already managed to make inroads by convincing a group of 50 community youths to venture into formal small scale mining.
Sande added that the death rate of artisanal miners has also dropped to only four per every six months, compared to four every month.
“We have already started on a positive note. We now have 50 youths (artisanal miners) that are now into formal mining after we convinced them to do so. So its 50 youths already that we have managed to assist. Also, we used to have a high death rate of artisanal miners but that is no longer the case,” she said.
CNRG director Farai Maguwu said the women were part of a project to address the impact of mining within communities.
“They have just completed the first phase, Participatory Action Research (PAR) which started in August 2015. The next phase is of Capacity Building, which will take them another 12 months and then the third phase is of Activism. Here, we will be promoting direct action. The women must engage with mining companies and raise their concerns, demand reforms, engage the Ministry of Mines Rural District Councils and make sure that the gender impacts of mining are scaled down,” he said.