Dr. Gladys Nyarko Ansah

A Co-Principal Investigator for the University of York and member of the University of Ghana Galamsey Research Team, has attributed the failure of the government in its anti-galamsey campaign to the lack of involvement of leaders of the local communities in which the illegal mining activities occur.

Dr. Gladys Nyarko Ansah who was speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile Saturday said, the lack of support from the leaders of the local communities is as a result of the government not fully engaging them in the campaign.

According to her, if the government takes the necessary steps to involve the indigenes in the campaign, there might be no need for a military taskforce to handle illegal miners.

“We are ‘fighting’ from Accra, from Burma camp, but the battle ground is down there in the villages, in the forest. If the local people decide that we will not allow strangers, politicians, whoever to mess up our forests and our river bodies, the government will not need to send whatever, operation Vanguard, galamstop or whatever, no.” She said,

Citing her experience researching the galamsey canker in the Atewa West District, she stated that all the communities she visited in the District were involved in illegal mining except one town, Asunafo.

“No galamsey activity whatsoever, occurs in this community. There are clean brooks, small rivers, streams there. The people are engaged in agriculture, they don’t mine. Not because there is no gold or diamond.

“How has it happened? People have actually gone to Asunafo with permits, concessions from Accra, ‘we have permission to mine’, and the people say ‘no, you cannot mine our land. Take whatever permit you have back, we don’t want you.’”

According to her, the Asunafo people have set up a 12 -member inter-generational committee to oversee the maintenance and protection of traditional lands in the area.

“In Asunafo what is happening is that they have a 12-member committee and it is made up of young people, a few youth, a few people from the royal clan, and the assemblyman and a few other people who are volunteers and they are the real operation Vanguard. They don’t need the military. It is them.

“We spoke to them, we had interviews and what they’re saying is that, ‘this is our land, the land was passed on to us by our ancestors. We hold it in trust for the unborn, so we have a duty to our ancestors to pass on that which they passed on to us to the next generation and so we don’t want to and we don’t want anybody to destroy our water bodies,’” She said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ansah says the language used to describe the anti-galamsey campaign should change.

She said using words such as ‘war’, ‘fight’ to describe the campaign antagonises local communities where members of the community are actively engaged in the illegal mining.

According to her, this might cause the indigenes to put up a defensive front and refuse to collaborate with the government to end the scourge of galamsey.

“You see when you call it a fight, the question you create in the minds of the people is, who are the enemies involved in this fight? Is it government against local people? Is it government against the people who are mining? Who are the actors involved in this fight?

“When you call it a war, I’m not a lawyer, if you declare war, you can’t talk about legalities. If you call it a war then you are not going to get the collaboration which I think is what we need to address the problem,” Dr Ansah emphasised.