Research conducted by Solidaridad, an international Non-Governmental Organization, has shown that more than 5,600 children are actively engaging in illegal mining which is popularly known as ‘galamsey’.
The report stated that social events make illegal mining activities attractive to teens and children in the mining communities, which led to social competition among them. Meanwhile, the report cited the activities of churches and other religious centres in mining communities as being promoters of child labour and early marriage in the communities.
The research, which was conducted within a four-month period between October 2022 and January this year, has 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 at the validation of the Child Labour Eradication Framework for the Small-Scale mining sector in Accra, Dr Rita Owusu-Amankwah, consultant for the research, said, currently, it is 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 mining activities. Only a few females (relatively to their male counterparts) are engaged in mining because of the belief that menstruation is a bad omen to find gold.”Dr Rita Owusu-Amankwah
Children in mining, she explained, are mainly engaged in illegal activities because the law does not permit mining companies to employ children. Dr Owusu-Amankwah noted that the situation exposes the children to the hazardous nature of the work of mining, its impact on their health and education, and posts a negative image of Ghana’s gold on the international gold market.
Dr Owusu-Amankwah 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.
Framework Being Developed
The Framework, still being developed, she said, is 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 well-being of children and develop systems for identifying and analysing cases of child labour and forced labour for effective remediation and follow-up actions.
This, Dr Owusu-Amankwah said 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 the 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 of the Minerals Commission, on her part, said the Commission is aware of illegal practices including child labour in the small-scale mining sector, adding that it is working with all stakeholders to address it. She noted that the Framework would help in streamlining all activities aimed at curtailing child labour and all other illegal practices.
Rosemary Addico, Programmes Manager at Solidaridad, noted that the framework is a needed step towards the eradication of child labour in the small-scale mining sector. She said the organisation is committed to working with all stakeholders to tackle the menace within the sector.