[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) in collaboration with the Fund for Peace (FFP), has formed a Local Dialogue Facilitation Team (LDFT) in the Upper East Region to help tackle mining issues.
As part of the roles assigned to the LDFT, it is expected to monitor and pick early warning signals and inform the appropriate bodies to address conflicts in mining communities before they escalate.
The LDFT members are also expected to use Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms options including arbitration, negotiation, mediation and reconciliation to resolve mining issues within the communities.
The group, made up of the district assembly representatives, civil society organisations, traditional rulers, CHRAJ, the media and the security among others, would pick conflict signals such as compensations, spillage, explosions, pollutions, destruction of livelihoods, child labour, armed robbery and illegal mining and resolve them before they get out of hand.
Mr Albert Yelyang, the National Co-ordinator of WANEP, who expressed concern about the spate of conflicts in mining communities, said the programme was to create the avenue for the stakeholders to interact and explore community mechanisms and build on those existing mechanisms for sustained dialogue among the various stakeholders in the extractive industry to help curb conflicts.
“The programme is the first local dialogue to engage communities to make use of community dialogue mechanisms for community engagements to address extractive industry related problems in a very mutual manner,” he said.
He said similar programmes would be organised at Kayansi and Obuasi and their outcomes would be fed into a national level dialogue that would involve parliamentarians, small scale mining communities, traditional rulers, CSOs and state authorities to explore dialogue options.
This would include the ADR process in addressing conflicts in mining communities across the country before they degenerate into major conflicts.
Mr Yelyang, who told the participants that mining activities could not take place without peace and clear guidelines on natural resource management, impressed upon the LDFT members to play their roles effectively.
He gave the assurance that WANEP and FFP would give them the necessary support.
The participants identified lack of communication and transparency as one of the major causes of conflicts in mining communities and stressed the need for all stakeholders to be engaged.
They called on the Mineral Commission to embark on periodic education in the mining communities on the mining and mineral laws, so as to help the communities demand for their rights in a manner that would not lead to conflicts.
The programme, the first Local Dialogue on Voluntary Principle in Mining Communities in Ghana, was on the theme, “Enhance Natural Resource Governance and Community Peace and Security through Dialogue”.