An Interactive Story ‘Rural Women, Empowerment and Mining The issues rural women face from extractive activities in Malawi’ with Publish What You Pay’s Olivia Broome:
The villagers of Mwabulambo in northern Malawi first heard about the planned mining activities in their village when the trucks arrived. When the villagers asked what was happening, they were told that a coal-mining facility was going to be running in their neighbourhood for the next two years.
The rural women in the area hoped this new development would bring job opportunities and a much-needed healthcare centre to the area for their families. Yet in the space of half a year, local communities were progressively uprooted by mining activities they had been completely unaware of. None of the villagers had been consulted about these changes and no consent had been given.
Because of Malawi’s mineral wealth, the government has actively promoted private investments in mining and resource extraction, trying to diversify its economy away from agriculture, in particular tobacco.
A large number of licenses were issued all around the country, allowing oil and gas extraction to take place in areas around Lake Malawi, including protected UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Even Malawi’s newest draft law, the relatively-progressive Mines and Minerals Bill, exposes a significant administrative loophole: the lack of transparency about the mining-related risks.
This means that local communities’ right to access information, obtain respectful resettlement agreements, and be informed about the benefits and risks of existing and future problems aren’t officially enforced.
Read on here.