A number of unemployed women in distress at Yale, a community in the Talensi District, have accused Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd, a Chinese firm, for destroying their economic tree leading to financial hardship.
The women announced in a meeting that they lost their livelihood after the company reportedly destroyed some economic trees which served as lifeblood for their underprivileged families. The meeting was organised by the Tano Women Empowerment and Development Association (TWEDA).
Some of our girls have dropped out of school at the basic level and have gone into early marriage because we don’t have money to further our children’s education. We were picking shea nuts for commercial processing and using the income to take care of our children in school. But the shea trees have been destroyed and we no longer get the little income we were getting. We need jobs.
Since they (the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd) came to the district, they have not rendered any help to us. We don’t have hospital. We are suffering to get water to drink. When pregnant women are due for delivery, they have to walk from here to Duusi or Namoalogo to be delivered. Your chances of survival as a pregnant woman in this community are very uncertain because there is no health facility here,” Nagbemah Dome complained.
Baanzen Baamah grieved similarly, saying the company “destroyed our shea trees from the roots with bulldozers” and “we don’t have any work to do because we don’t get the shea fruits anymore”.
Besides, the only school block we have been trying to adopt as the JHS (Junior High School) building for the community is so dilapidated humans cannot use it. That is why you can see only goats occupying it and excreting inside. Look at how it is so messed up. But you have a mining company of that sort which cannot even boast a better school for a community that is crying for a JHS block,” Mary Kolog, a woman said to be very influential in the area, noted.
Some elderly men took part in the meeting. One among them, Akoka Pahlaad, put into words a struggle he reportedly had with the company over a graveyard.
“The Shaanxi operations here have not come to help the community at all. When they brought their big machines here to dig, I told them the area where they wanted to do the digging was our graveyard where our great-grandparents were resting.
“I told them to not touch there. They did not bother; they still went ahead, did their digging and did some demarcations there. Later, they left with their machines. I remember, they only came to greet us and gave us one hundred Ghana cedis. This is a community without a JHS block. Potable water is uncommon here,” he said.
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Sponsored by Global Greengrants Fund (GGF), the meeting is one of the series of conferences being organised for some communities in the district— including Pardyire, Yalle, Gban-Datok, Gbandanyire and Gbani— as part of a “Campaign on Community Rights and Environmental Justice” programmed for people said to have been adversely affected by the operations of the Chinese mining firm within that area of the Upper East Region.
TWEDA, according to the organisers of the meeting, is a registered association, established in 2010 to promote women and children’s rights, protect the environment and improve women’s entrepreneurial skills, particularly women in the rural and mining-affected communities in Ghana. The organisation has been organising training workshops for disadvantaged women to build their capacity on their rights and to boost their awareness on Climate Change.