*As Prez launches alternative employment & livelihood programme
Story: Kofi Owusu TAWIAH
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has launched the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme, a programme designed to help alleviate the hardships of those affected by Government’s efforts to sanitise the mining industry.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, 25th October 2021, at the auditorium of the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that the lives of several people, including women and children, depend on illegal mining.
However, following government’s heightened drive to deal with illegal mining activities in Red Zones, many more illegal miners have lost their “illegal sources of livelihood”.
“A comprehensive approach to tackling this canker, which demonstrates also our commitment to social solidarity and harmony, requires that, while working with the security agencies for the protection and proper utilisation of our natural resources, we fashion alternative means of livelihood for those affected by the crackdown,” he said.
To this end, the President indicated that his government had decided to diversify sources of livelihood, even in mining communities, to reduce the impact of the depletion of the resources on the lives of persons in mining communities.
The National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), he said, would mitigate the unavoidable hardships, which government’s efforts to sanitize the small-scale mining sector had created, particularly in the five (5) regions that Operation Halt carried out its operations.
“It is intended to provide good economic livelihood options to illegal mining and its associated activities, and to enable those adversely impacted the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families. The Programme will also focus on reversing the negative impact of illegal mining on the environment through the National Land Reclamation and Reafforestation component of the Programme,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He continued, “given that most of our degraded lands are due to illegal mining activities, it is very fitting that any programme targeting illegal mining should include a reclamation portion. This component of the Programme will restore degraded lands into economically viable lands, creating job opportunities for the youth, landowners and communities at large”.
In keeping with government’s commitment to promote responsible, viable and sustainable small-scale mining, he revealed that the Programme would also include a Community Mining Scheme, which would be the model for small-scale mining activities in the country.
Commissioning the Akoon Community Mining Scheme, on the day as well, President Akufo-Addo stated that “Community Mining Schemes will be supported by the Mine Support Services, and, all together, are expected to create some two hundred and twenty thousand (220,000) direct and indirect jobs”.
He reiterated that his government would not condone any illegal activities in the mining sector, as the strengthened monitoring and enforcement regime put in place, under the auspices of the enhanced
Mine Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and the Regional Security Councils, will ensure that all small-scale mining activities are environmentally compliant.
The President, thus, urged Regional Coordinating Councils, and Municipal and District Assemblies, in areas where this Programme will be implemented, to give their full support for its implementation.
“The nation is grateful to the George Grant University of Mines and Technology for its collaboration and cooperation to make this Programme successful, by putting its teaching resources at the disposal of those who are involved in the Programme to enhance their capacity and expertise, and improve their productivity. University, let me say ayekoo, well done,” he said.
Towards the sustainable funding of this Scheme, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that “at my request, the Ministry of Finance has committed to make adequate budgetary allocation in the upcoming 2022 Budget of Government to fund this very important policy.”