Breaking the Cycle: Military Approach against Galamsey has been ineffective Since 1980
Galamsey has been instrumental in poverty reduction by offering alternative livelihood options for marginalized communities. It enables individuals to earn a living and support their families, especially in areas where formal employment opportunities are limited
Artisanal small-scale (ASM) mining plays a significant role in many economies, providing livelihoods for millions of people globally, especially in regions where alternative employment opportunities are scarce. However, ASM also known as ‘galamsey’ is also associated with numerous challenges and risks. These can include environmental degradation, unsafe working conditions, child labor, social conflicts, smuggling, and inadequate health and safety measures.
In Ghana, Artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) has been both positive and negative impacts especially in rural areas. Galamsey has been a significant source of employment and income generation for many Ghanaians, particularly in rural areas. It provides livelihood opportunities for thousands of individuals and contributes to local and national economies.
Galamsey has been instrumental in poverty reduction by offering alternative livelihood options for marginalized communities. It enables individuals to earn a living and support their families, especially in areas where formal employment opportunities are limited. It contributes to the national revenue through taxes, royalties, and licensing fees. This income can be reinvested in infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and other essential sectors.
Speaking at the Policy Dialogue programme organized by YAFO Institute, Dr. Albert Kobina Mensah, revealed that the operation of Galamsey has been with us and has contributed to Ghana’s Gold revenue from USD 6.6 million in 1990 to USD 2.0 billion in 2016.
In addition, Dr. Albert Kobina Mensah admitted that the current state of Galamsey operation has resulted in significant environmental damage, including deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. The use of mercury in gold processing has particularly raised concerns about water contamination and its impact on ecosystems and public health.
However, the government’s approach to curbing galamsey menace in Ghana has top-down approach which neglects the participation of locals in finding lasting and long-term solution. In particular, the use of military in cracking down on galamsey is cyclically ineffective and only abusive and grossly violates the human right of locals in galamsey areas.
Dr. AK Mensah who has done rigorous study in the area of Artisanal Small-Scale mining added that, the military approach has been ineffective since 1980 when it was first introduced. Afterwards, despite its ineffectiveness, the military approach against galamsey has resurface under different names thus Police Taskforce in 1990, Operation fight illegal mining in 2006, Operation flushing out ASM in 2013, Operation vanguard in 2017 and Operation halt in 2021. In all these military crackdowns at galamsey site, the miners always return.
The military approach is just command and control measure that is bias against the indigenes with no checks and balances for officers who violates law. Also, the approach is highly influenced by political actors. The government must recognize that mining is an integral component of people’s livelihoods in rural areas, therefore, the unplanned and ad hoc measures with no blue-print guideline will not help our situation.
The policy dialogue organized by the YAFO Institute took place on 25th May 2023 under the theme; Free Market-Based Solutions for Sustainable Mining in Ghana: Tackling the Galamsey Challenge. The President of the YAFO Institute, Mr. Nathaniel Dwamena, said in his remarks that, the problem of galamsey cannot be solved if we do not move from politicizing the menace and provide a more scientific approach in dealing with the problem. He added that the government should set fair rules and guidelines that would allow all actors in the mining sector including artisanal miners a clear road map to undertake sustainable mining.
Mr. Dwamena concluded that, ‘banning galamsey is a cheap solution to a livelihood issue’.
The policy dialogue was sponsored by Liberty International, Kingscel Techologies, YAFO University, Gallop Sea Ghana Ltd, and the Institute for Liberty and Economic Education.