Youth Group Completes Six Months Activities In Gbapolu

-Outlines Findings, Challenges

A youth group under the banner “Peaceful Youth Association for Transformation” (PYAT-Inc) has completed it community Level Engagement on the Impact of Artisanal Mining Operations in two mining communities in Bong and Gbapolu Counties and has outlined its findings.

The Community Level Engagement on the Impact of Artisanal Mining Operations was sponsored by GIZ Regional Resource Governance Program (Liberia) and was implemented by the Peaceful Youth Association for Transformation” (PYAT-Inc) in partnership with Mark N. Mengonfia, Women Voices Sr. Legislatives Reporter.

Speaking during a press conference held at the offices of PYAT-Inc, the executive director, Leon N. Gehyigon told the conference that they as a youth group during the meetings identified the lack of education and awareness on policy governing artisanal mining among artisanal miners about best practices, observed huge numbers of open pits left by miners in surrounding farming lands

Gehyigon indicated that as part of their findings, they observed alleged corruption by field agents or supervisors of government agencies, adding that the agents or supervisors of the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy is unresponsive to carry out effective monitoring and supervision of artisanal mining activities in the county.

“We also observed the lack of participation of local authorities in decision making regarding mining operations, local authority lack of education on regulations governing artisanal mining, increased number of illegal (illicit) artisanal miners, pollution of creeks, streams and rivers that are used for drinking from mining activities, and increased vulnerability of women and children within the camp,” Gehyigon indicated.

Speaking additionally, the youth leader said during the period they implemented their project in the areas, they also observed the decline in farming or agricultural activities as a result of ongoing mining activities.

He said “there are an increased number of abandoned pits within farming and surrounding lands resulting to death of innocent farmers at times”.

According to him “one major aspect of the project was aimed at supporting miners and stakeholders in developing action and advocacy plans which would outline small steps that need to be taken to better reduce the impact of their mining operations as well as engage the county authorities on how to better regulate artisanal mining in the county”.

He went on to say that “in this regard, PYAT conducted a one-day workshop in Weamah on April 1, 2018.  At the workshop, participants were educated on how to develop an effective advocacy plan, forming alliances and using the media as a key ally during advocacy”.

According to him, getting miners buy-in the project idea was a bit difficult from the onset as they saw their intervention as one that was intended to spy on their operations.

“However, after initial meetings, where PYAT staffs explained the logic of our project, they became fully involved; they appreciated our effort in many of our opened community level engagements,” the youth leader added.

In their youth group final report, they as well observed bad road condition which is one of the major challenges facing Liberia as a country.

He said it “has been an immense privilege to partner with the GIZ Regional Resource Governance Program (Liberia) as well its supportive pool of project advisors. PYAT is deeply indebted and also grateful for the strategic guidance and advice given us through the implementation of the project”.

Gehyigon went on to say that over the course of six months, while implementing the project, they had the chance to engage and interact with hundreds of young people including elders and local authority in Gbarpolu County regarding artisanal mining operations, specifically in Jungle James & Weamah areas.

“We would also like to acknowledge the support provided by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) local structures in Gbarpolu County. Collaboration with the MME local agents helped PYAT to establish contact with key project stakeholders, especially miners as well as local community leaders in the target project communities.   It is also worth noting the role of Journalist Mark N. Mengonfia of the Women Voices News Paper and all volunteers who contributed either directly or indirectly to the success of this project,”  Gehyigon concluded.

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