Report: 5,677 children engaged in illegal mining in Ghana
Activities of churches and other religious centres in mining communities have been cited for being one of the promoters of early marriage and child labour in the communities, a research report by Solidaridad, an international NGO, has revealed.
According to the report, since the teenagers could afford flashy marriages and naming ceremonies, church leaders in mineral communities allow and officiate weddings of persons under the age of 18 and naming ceremonies of children of underage parents.
The report further stated that, such social events make illegal mining activities attractive to the teens and the children in the mining communities and it had led to a social competition among them.
The research, which was conducted within a four-month period between October 2022 and January this year, had respondents mainly from Atiwa East District in the Eastern Region as well as inputs from other stakeholders in mining communities across the country.
Discussing the report during the validation of Child Labour Eradication Framework for the Small-Scale mining sector in Accra yesterday, Dr Rita Owusu-Amankwah, consultant for the research, said, currently, it was estimated that about 5,677 children engaged in mining activities.
Findings show that illegal small-scale mining activities are done by people of all age groups; adults, youth, and children even though it is dominated by males, especially the youth.
Both migrants and indigenous people are engaged in the mining activities. Only few females (relatively to their male counterparts) are engaged in mining
because of the belief that menstruation is a bad omen to find gold,” she added.
Children in mining, she explained, were mainly engaged in illegal activities because the law does not permit mining companies to employ children.
Dr Owusu-Amankwah said the situation exposes the children to the hazardous nature of the work of mining, its impact on their health and education, and post a negative image of Ghana’s gold on the international gold market.
She noted that, although several laws and policy measures have been put in place with the aim of realising constitutional and moral obligations for the protection of children from abuse and exploitation, the practice still persists in mining communities.
She referred to the implementation of the National Plan of Action (NPA) 1 and 2, Strategy on Anti Child labour and Trafficking in Fisheries, and Caring Gold Mining Project for the Mining Sector as some of the interventions which was helping to address the menace.
The Framework, being developed, she said, was aimed at implementing holistic, well-integrated, consistent, multi stakeholder and high-yielding interventions that would lead to the reduction of child labour by 50 per cent in the mining sector by 2027.
Dr Owusu-Amankwah noted that, the framework would focus on promoting community-driven efforts to implement interventions that would improve the wellbeing of children and develop systems for identifying and analysing cases of child labour and forced labour for effective remediation and follow-up actions.
She said it would further strengthen the capabilities of both institutions and actors at all levels to implement interventions to address child labour in an efficient manner and increase accessibility of poor families to the current social programmes and productive inclusion initiatives that provide sustainable livelihood possibilities.
Fafanyo Kukubor Amegavi, Gender and International Affairs Officer, Minerals Commission, said the Commission was aware of illegal practices including child labour in the small scale mining sector adding that it was working with all stakeholders to address it.
She said the Framework would help in streamlining all activities aimed at curtailing child labour and all other illegal practices
Rosemary Addico, Programmes Manager, Solidaridad, said the framework was a needed step towards the eradication of child labour in the small scale mining sector.
She said the organisation was committed to working with all stakeholders to tackle the menace within the sector.
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