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Interaction with EMA brought another dimension to community monitoring

22 April 2022

Compiled by Cosmas Sunguro and Proud Nyakuni

The recent interface between Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and communities from Marange and Chimanimani brought a glimmer of hope especially on environmental management. The workshop ran from 20 to 22 April 2022 were hosted by EMA and ZELA in Arda Transau, Chimanimani and Marange.

The objectives of the workshop were to learn and share experience on Independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) monitoring and to train the Community Based Organisations (CBOs), community monitors, community members and traditional leaders on Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA). Participants were drawn from organizations that include Zimbabwe Diamond Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU), Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT), Save-Odzi Community Network (SOCNET), Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT), traditional leaders, councilors, and community leaders. The events attracted more than 60 participants in total. In terms of gender, it was balanced and it was also inclusive of the youth.

Nuggets learnt during the workshops.

Having attended the workshops there some nuggets that we picked from it. 

  • It is important to be well versed with the EIA document that would have been given to an organisation as it gives the basis of monitoring. One cannot be a monitor who is not knowledgeable on what s/he is supposed to monitor. According to an EMA official, ” monitors must be acquainted with the contents of documents especially the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
  • It is important to note that exemptions are given to certain projects, but it is vital to verify if indeed it is exempted. While some companies can be unscrupulous to operate without EIA, it is prudent that monitors verify the position of companies operating in the area. It is important to understand the stage of the life cycle the company is operating. Each stage has its own requirements during mining and these are normally provided for in the EMP.
  • The community-based organizations (CBOs) have a role to play in ensuring the environment is kept in harmony with human activities.
  • CBOs need to identify any negative and positive impacts of the project.
  • Monitoring as a continuous process is not a once off event hence monitors presence is of paramount importance.
  • During and after monitoring interaction with stakeholders including giving feedback is important as indicated from their statement above.

EMA is a regulatory authority under Environmental Management Act chapter 20:27. Their statement is ” Together protecting the environment ” shows that everyone has a responsibility. There is an aspect of participating together as opposed to individualism. The environment is meant for every citizen. The EMA and Statutory instrument 7 of 2007 on EIA and ecosystem protection compel prescribed projects to undergo the EIA process before implementation.

Way forward:

  • EMA awareness campaigns to continue and to be done rigorously.
  • To find alternative ways to participate in the EMA bill to those who failed to participate during the public hearings.
  • Continuous capacity building to communities. Some of the language being used to be simplified for the communities.
  • ZELA to continue capacitating community monitors with monitoring tools. While it is acknowledged that the tools like tablets (phones) and some monitoring tool kits had been issued, there is still hope that they can further capacitate monitors.
  • Community Monitors should continue engagement with mining companies and any other stakeholders in environment management.
  • Community Monitors To do due diligence research about companies’ capacity to manage environment during and after mining.
  • Training of artisanal small-scale miners on safety and environmental management by ZELA.

ZIDAWU Information Desk.

A member of PWYP Zimbabwe.

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