The piece “Mkango Resources assists flood victims” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 22 2015 that circulated in February 2015.
The full edition can be read here: Mining Review No. 22 February 2015.
To learn more about this quarterly publication, edited by Marcel Chimwala, read the post about the “Voice of the mineral sector in Malawi”.
Mkango Resources assists flood victims
By Chiku Jere
Mkango Resources, a Canadian TSX.V listed exploration and mining firm exploring for rare earth elements on Songwe Hill in Malawi’s Southern Region district of Phalombe, has yet again, showed its commitment to support communities surrounding the area, when it recently donated various essential items to 470 households, whose livelihoods have been seriously affected by floods.
An unprecedented once in a 50 year weather phenomenon recently occurred in Malawi, which caused a ceaseless heavy downpour which lasted for almost 15 days and triggered flooding in almost 15 districts of the country, causing destruction to people and property, washing away crops in fields and rendering many roads impassable.
Unfortunately Phalombe District was not spared. According to a report presented at the event by the District Agricultural officer Mr Innocent Kaponya, the area normally receives 310mm of rains in 25 days, but this time around the area got 345mm of rains in only 15 days.
The resulting effect of this flooding was that approximately 82 hectares (2065 plots) of maize fields, 1972 plots of tobacco, 1072 plots of pigeon peas and 297 plots of rice were washed away.
Heeding an SOS concertedly raised by traditional leaders and Member of Parliament for the area (Phalombe North East Constituency), the Honourable Dennis Namachekecha, Mkango Resources swiftly moved into action, releasing funds to the Mkango management team for the procurement of urgent flood relief items.
Mkango funds were quickly made available amounting to K6.7 million ($ 15,000.00 USD). We quickly made inquiries through traditional leaders as to exactly what items were urgently needed and we then purchased the required items,
said Mkango Resources Country Manager Mr Burton Kachinjika.
He explained that the firm regards the people of the Songwe Hill area as both friends and partners – “this is the reason we as a company feel ethically compelled to assist a friend who is in need and a partner whom you cannot be without. The community here assist us a lot in many ways.”
that the donation may not answer all the problems brought about by the devastating effects of the floods in the area,
but he was hopeful
that the assistance the company provided would, at least, go a long way to ease the suffering that the people are facing and will complement the support that the communities are receiving from government and other well-wishers.
The items that Mkango donated to 470 households included maize flour (staple food), blankets, polythene roofing materials, buckets, cups and various kitchen utensils.
The company also donated to three primary schools within the affected area, 1000 exercise books and 1000 pencils to each school, mindful of the likely fact that some pupils might have lost such items in the course of the flooding.
Mkango’s donation was directed at 470 of the worst affected households, from Senior Group Village Headman Maone and Village Head Namalima’s jurisdiction.
Making his speech during the event, the MP Hon. Namachekecha was all praises for the Mkango gesture, describing it as timely and helpful.
As an elected representative for this area, I really appreciate your assistance. I appreciate that this is not the only intervention from Mkango Resources; even before this disaster you have always supported us in many different ways. We do not take this for granted, as we know we have a partner with whom we are going to work with to develop this area and its people,
Namachekecha said it is encouraging that Mkango is investing valuable funds to uplift the livelihood of the Songwe surrounding communities when it has not yet even commenced mining at the site.
Anyone who still doubts Mkango Resources’ commitment towards aiding the communities of this area to achieve a good life, with all the humanitarian gestures they have so far taken place, clearly have problems in appreciating goodwill,
He also advised his constituents to always promote dialogue and a spirit of peaceful co-existence with mining investors to ensure that the investors exploit the resources for their mutual benefit and that of the communities and the government.
The parliamentarian was joined by several traditional leaders, who took turns recognising the ‘win-win’ partnership that is taking place between the communities and the investor.
What we have seen so far in terms of our relationship is very encouraging and we hope the trend will continue for the mutual benefit of both sides based on mutual respect and cordial understanding,
noted Senior Group Village Headman Maone in his remarks.
What we have seen so far with Mkango is an indisputable show of commitment to fulfilling their social responsibility towards the people of the area. Note this, they have not yet started mining or selling the product, but they are helping us in many ways. What if they start, don’t you think we are poised to benefit further from this investment?
asked Maone and he got a unified chorus of agreement from his gathered subjects.
Digby Wells Environmental, the largest specialised environmental consultancy firm in Africa are currently completing an EISHA (Environmental Impact, Social and Health Assessment) on the future Songwe mining project. The team includes approximately 25 Malawian specialist consultants who amongst other things have been visiting the communities to ask for their input and advice as to how the company and villagers can forge a better long-term working relationship that will benefit the community.
In a related development, the company has continued with its ongoing road and bridge maintenance works in the area, after some of the villages access roads were rendered impassable due to flooding.
Other developments that Mkango has funded, as part of its ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in the area include renovation and painting of school blocks into learner-friendly facilities in partnership with BONGO Worldwide – a project christened ‘Happy Classrooms’.
In an exclusive interview with Mining Review on the sidelines of the event, Country Director for Mkango Resources, Mr. Burton Kachinjika, also announced that the company has long-term plans to empower the children in the three local primary schools; Mphembeze, Changa and Mangazi and grant scholarships to the top performing pupil at each school in mathematics and science subjects.
We intend to sponsor their secondary and tertiary education until they complete their studies, we then hope in the future to offer them jobs to work for Mkango Resources in different befitting positions,