Residents of Dokyikrom, a farming community in the Asutifi North District of the Ahafo region, are blaming Newmont Ghana Gold Limited for the widespread skin and eye-related diseases in the area in the last few years of the company’s presence there.
According to the residents, they never witnessed such kinds of diseases prior to the large-scale mining in the area and believe that some of the chemicals used by the company’s mining operations could be responsible for these diseases.
This came to light at a day’s sensitization programme at Dokyikrom near Kenyase organised by Mining Community Rights Network, a non-profit organisation, on the costs of mining-induced resettlement on rural households.
Sponsored by the Global Greengrant Fund, the programme sought to educate the yet-to-be-resettled Dokyikrom community on the effects or socioeconomic and relational costs of involuntary displacement on the rural households and equip the participants with coping strategies to survive and ensure a sustainable resettlement community.
It was also to mobilize the community to stand for their rights, particularly in their current situation where Newmont is trying to divide or fragment the community and relocate the households into two different locations, creating social disarticulation, polarizing community cohesion, and social networks and eroding community identity, sovereignty, and sense of place.
About 180 community members, mostly farmers and property owners who are due for resettlement, attended the programme.
These community members also expressed their resolve to fiercely resist any attempt by Newmont to split them into two different groups when they are being resettled.
Addressing the people, Dr. Samuel Kumi, the Executive Director of Mining Community Rights Network, identified increased poverty, reduced access to basic services such as healthcare and education, loss of cultural identity and heritage, disruption to community cohesion, loss of social networks, changes in livelihoods, impacts on physical and mental wellbeing, increased social inequality, disparities or misunderstanding wealth distribution and access to resources and unequal power structure or dynamics as some of the social costs of mining-induced resettlement to households.
Dr. Kumi, who is also a Lecturer at the Department of Environmental Management of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, further mentioned landlessness, loss of property, disruption of livelihoods, reduced income, increased unemployment, loss of access to natural resources and ecosystem services that form the base of household consumption, subsistence and income generation some of the economic cost of mining-induced resettlement.
He explained that LI2175 Regulation 6(1) and (3) of the compensation and resettlement regulations state that “The inhabitants shall be resettled by the holder on suitable alternative land and the resettlement shall have regard to the economic well-being and socio-cultural values of the persons to be resettled’ … and the inhabitants to be resettled shall on the basis of the terms and conditions agreed on between the parties execute a resettlement agreement with the holder of the mining lease.”
“So, per the regulation, the socio-cultural values of PAPs should be respected, and movement should be agreed upon but not forced. Again, principle 14 of UN principles of displacement clearly states that: “Displaced person has the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence”, he added.
Dr. Kumi condemned any attempt to resettle or relocate anyone forcefully without recourse to the laid down legal framework on the issue and reminded the community members of their right to adequate housing and standard of living, compensation and benefits, livelihood and income restoration, and the right to negotiate all compensation and mitigation packages.
He added that they also have the right to engage a consultant at the cost of the mine as well as the option to determine or decide resettlement site within a traditional jurisdiction, among others.