February 15, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
A study conducted by Ghanaian based African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) in partnership with the Ford Foundation, has revealed that the sustainability of land use was being threatened by reckless mining practices of artisanal miners.
The report of the study titled: “The Impact of Expanding Artisanal and Small Scale Mining on Smallholder Agriculture in West Africa: Case Study of Sierra Leone” was yesterday validated by stakeholders at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown.
The report indicated that mined out lands were not only rendered useless due to lack of rehabilitation, but posed serious environmental threat, thus prompting stakeholders to demand action by authorities to get miners to return potential agricultural lands to their pre-mining states.
Some of the farmers interviewed during the study expressed their dismay over the lack of enforcement of the law that requires artisanal and small-scale miners to return the land to its pre-mining state.
It continued further that land that would otherwise be sued for commercial agriculture and recreation were being held up by small and sometimes illicit operators.
The report recommended for the strict enforcement of the laws that require licensed miners of every description to reclaim mined out sites and return the land to their predevelopment state through rehabilitation.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Mustapha Olajiday Thomas, who doubles as Head of Geology Department at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, the country’s land policy recognizes that land use planning was essential to the efficient and sustainable utilization and management of land and land based resources with a view of benefiting Sierra Leoneans.
While presenting the findings and recommendations of the study, he stated that the study was commissioned in Nimikoro and Nimiyama Chiefdoms in Kono district and Tane and Kunike Barina Chiefdoms in the Tonkolili district respectively to assess the current relationship between artisanal and small scale mining activities and smallholder agriculture in the country.
He said land use planning was predicated on efforts to accommodate the goals of food security and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods.
He noted that even as the government contemplates protocols for rehabilitating these minded out sites, illicit miners continue to sieve through tailing left behind by the government owned national Diamond Mining Company.
Dr. Thomas urged the government to amend existing legislation to include revocation of mining licenses for failure to reclaim mined out sites and also reclaim and rehabilitate all mined out lands suitable for sustainable agriculture.
Earlier, ACET Research and Policy Analyst, Maame Esi Eshun disclosed that the study was commissioned not only in Sierra Leone but Burkina Faso and Ghana against the backdrop of a seeming gap in the narrative, predicated on the lack of a comprehensive discourse on how both practices can complement each other without undesirable socioeconomic and environmental impacts.