An excavator mining for gold in the district

Gold mining activities are impeding communication about Social Protection (SP) in the Upper Denkyira West District of Ghana.

This revelation was made during a day’s empowerment workshop for the district's key local SP actors.

George Jeffery, a Principal Field Officer with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in Diaso, the district capital, stated that mining activities are making residents nonchalant towards SP messages.

The young field officer explained that though farming is the mainstay of the people in the district, the younger folk are more attracted to gold mining which he says “brings them quick money.”

“The youth mostly engage themselves in mining. Early in the morning, they all rush to their sites to do what they have to do there. So, they don’t hear anything on the radio or information center. That is why I am saying it will affect our social protection programme communication” he emphasized.

A Little About Upper Denkyira West District

Upper Denkyira West Municipal Assembly

Upper Denkyira West District was carved out of the former Upper Denkyira District in 2012 in the Central Region of Ghana.

The population of the district, according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, stands at 91,025 with more than 65% aged from 10 to 49 years.

Small-scale mining, particularly of gold, is prevalent in some parts of the district, including Diaso, the district capital, Dominase and Nkotumso among others.

In 2023, research by K.A Gyekye, P. Owusu and A. Ofori showed that artisanal gold mining was destroying water bodies in the district.

In the same year, WACAM, a community based human rights and environmental mining advocacy NGO in Ghana, trained 100 members of mining communities in the district in paralegal education to help to deal with rights violations by operatives of Perseus Mining Ghana Company Limited (PMGL) in the area.

Meanwhile, the Ghana News Agency’s Victoria Agyemang reports that PMGL is procuring more mining lands in the area, grazing down more home and farm lands.

All these have increased the poverty bracket in the district, which necessitates social protection.

A Possible Solution

Joseph Allotey, Programs Coordinator for the Civil Society Platform for Social Protection Ghana (CSPSPG)

In an exclusive interview on the matter, a Programs Coordinator for the Civil Society Partnership for Social Accountability in Social Protection, Joseph Allotey, intoned that the same mining could well be a powerful tool in the arsenal of SP communication campaigns.

According to him, communication around SP programmes should be contextualised to the local community exigencies to grab the attention of the audience.

“It would be good to start the engagement with a localised preamble which is very real. I think district actors and civil society platforms should be able to reach out to their [residents] senses on what is likely to happen when the mining is no more. Sometime back when the Government banned all mining activities, there were communities where the youth were very vulnerable because they could not provide three square meals for themselves, let alone provide for their families,” he stated.

He added that the fact younger residents may be deaf to SP messages should not deter the campaign from going on because the few older ones who listen will be able to educate their children at home.

Ministry of Gender, CSOs Platform for Social Protection Train Local Actors in Upper Denkyira West District.

The training was organised to empower key district-level state actors in the district on Rights-and  Social Protection within the context of the rights and social protection campaign launched in November 2023 and expected to last for two years.

Organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) in collaboration with the Civil Society Partnership for Social Accountability in Social Protection with support from UNICEF, the training is part of a Beneficiary and Community Communication (BCC) on Social Protection program expected to cover 32 communities in 16 districts across the 16 regions of Ghana.

According to the Ministry, the motive of the training is to enable key actors such as the Social Welfare, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Information Services Department Ghana Education Service, School Feeding Programme, CSOs and local-level media practitioners to understand the rights and social protection campaign approach and empower them to communicate more effectively with community members and beneficiaries about the social protection mechanism in the country.

The specific social protection programmes being focused on in the Campaign are LEAP, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Capitation Grant, Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) and the Labour-Intensive Public Works (LIPW).

Speaking on the sidelines of the training, Afangbe Joseph, a co-convener for the Social Accountability Platform, touted the necessity of the Campaign.

“UNICEF, in partnership with academia and research institutions, in 2019/2020, conducted a baseline study which showed that most Ghanaians, most especially beneficiaries of social protection programmes think that instead of a hand up, it’s a hand out that government is giving them. They feel reluctant to demand accountability,” he explained in detail.

He stressed that the RBA campaign intends to open the eyes of citizens and beneficiaries to the fact that social protection is their right, not a political favour.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.