Social Accountability For Improved Water And Sanitation Services, Climate Change And Human Rights Among Gold Small-scale Mining Communities In Tanzania.
Tanzania Women Empowerment in Action (TAWEA), Media for Community Empowerment (MECE), and Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET) are implementing social accountability monitoring for water and sanitation, climate change adaptation, and human rights in Geita region, Tanzania.
The social accountability project is supported by End Water Poverty with the aim of engaging small-scale miners, community members, and their representatives to claim their rights in water and sanitation, climate change adaptation from identified duty bearers.
The project also aims to enhance platforms for dialogue and media engagement in amplifying the voices of mining communities in areas of water and sanitation, climate change, and human rights.
It is known that small-scale miners play a great role in the socio-economic development of Tanzania through the production and distribution of precious metals and paying taxes, they deserve better services from government authorities in Tanzania. Knowing that there is environmental degradation in mining areas it is better to understand the extent of the degradation and how the government authorities are addressing these issues in collaboration with the miners and adjacent communities.
In this sense, TAWASANET, MECE, and TAWEA decided made efforts to mobilize resources to help amplify the voices of small-scale miners and adjacent communities through accountability mechanisms in Geita region.
On 9th August 2021, the consortium started to introduce the project by conducting inception meetings at Geita District Council and duty bearers in Geita district. The District Executive Director and officials at Geita district council were very grateful for this opportunity to reach the small-scale miners and adjacent communities as there are only a few CSOs working with mining communities in Geita region. TAWEA, MECE, and TAWASANET were granted permission to implement the project in Geita district with a focus in Nyarugusu and Lwamgasa wards.
On 13–14, August 2021, TAWEA, MECE, and TAWASANET conducted two awareness meetings among small-scale miners and community members. The first awareness meeting was conducted in STAMICO mining area in Nyarugusu ward and the second awareness meeting was conducted at Bingwa Reef mining area in Lwamgasa ward in Geita district. The sessions attended by small-scale miners, community members, mine leaders, and ward leaders served as an opportunity for three organizations to raise awareness on water and sanitation, climate change adaptation, and human rights and claim your water rights campaign.
The sessions also allowed community members to raise their concerns as well as disclosing the challenges facing their area as far as water and sanitation, climate change and human rights are concerned. The sessions also served as an opportunity for the selection of 10 agents of change who were trained on themes selected (water, climate change, and human rights) to channel the challenges to duty bearers as well as collecting the commitments from the government.
Issues raised by small scale miners and the community members in Nyarugusu and Lwamgasa.
.The community members raised concerns about the lack of enough and safe water in the mining areas. The miners in Nyarugusu raised their voices that there are very few boreholes in their areas and they need to collect water from more than 2 kilometers from their mining area. Miners and community members in Lwamgasa ward disclosed that the two water tanks (150,000 liters in capacity) are not enough to cover a population of more than 43,000 persons in the ward and the water infrastructure does not reach other villagers in the ward. They also lamented on the existence of gold plants that pour its poisonous water into nearby water sources something which affects the water which is used for human consumption.
· The community members in Nyarugusu raised their voices that they don’t have large water project water to serve the populations in their ward something which affects their lives. The limited water sources in the ward are used by the people as the source of water and when its dry season the challenge becomes bigger and serious to the people.
· The small-scale miners and community members in both wards raised their voices about the existence of mining companies that pour its waste products into people’s environments something which is detrimental to the environment. The waste products come from plants that use cyanide and mercury in processing gold ores and are poured into people’s environment and available water sources something which increases fear to the people about their health and that of crops and fish in rivers.
In the awareness meetings, the representative from Media for Community Empowerment (MECE) had an opportunity to make interviews with the small-scale miners, community members, and leaders of the Miners Associations ready to produce the media products which serve to amplify the voices of the people in mining areas.
On 16 August, 2021, TAWEA, MECE, and TAWASANET conducted one day of training to 10 selected agents of change who were selected to represent others in amplifying the voices of the people in Nyarugusu and Lwamgasa ward and Geita districting general.
The training session was officiated by The District Community Development Officer (DCDO), Mrs. Furaha Chiwile who insisted the 10 participants have to be good ambassadors in raising the voices of the people in Geita district. She insisted that the Geita District Council will be cooperative during project implementation to make sure that the challenges in small-scale miners are known and addressed appropriately by state and non-state actors in Geita region and Tanzania in general.
The three-month project focuses on the Claim Your Water Rights campaign, where for this phase focus on advocating for climate justice as well as supporting communities to demand their rights to water and sanitation from duty-bearers.
The Claim Your Water Rights is a global public pressure campaign aimed at mobilising people to demand their human rights to water and sanitation. Since launching in December 2019, members produced impressive results: from securing legislative change in Pakistan to garnering political commitments in Nigeria’s Enugu State, from influencing governments’ Covid-19 responses to supporting numerous communities to successfully claim their rights.