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Mining sector players, the best interest of the child matters

The Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Natural Resource Governance (STAR-NRG) consortium members, Silveira House and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) have called on mining companies, policy makers, artisanal and small-scale miners to review and enforce implementation of child –sensitive policies in the extractive industry, a sector that has exposed children to health hazards and endangered their lives.

While sharing key findings of a study on, “The state of children and youths’ right to a healthy and sustainable environment in Zimbabwe: Assessment of the impacts of mining on children and youth living in mining communities[1],” during the 2021 AMI virtual side session, the public interest environmental law organisation revealed how mining activities in areas such as Marange, Chimanimani Hotsprings and Zvishavane are resulting in adverse environmental impacts on children and youths.    

“These mining activities have resulted in land degradation, water pollution, air pollution and noise pollution. Furthermore, environmental degradation legacy issues such as open pits and gullies are posing danger to both livestock and human life particularly children due to their physical vulnerability. This is indeed a matter of concern,” said ZELA’s Josephine Chiname in her presentation.

Though Zimbabwe is a signatory to key international and regional instruments with provisions that refers to the right to a healthy and sustainable environment for children particularly the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children and Zimbabwe’s national legislation and policies like the Constitution, Environmental Management Act, Education Act, Children’s Act, Public Health Management Act, which has provisions to promote the rights to a healthy environment for children and youths in the mining sector, mining activities are inhibiting children and youths in mining communities to fully enjoy this right.

Representing ZELA, Rodrick Moyo emphasized the need not to sideline children in decision making processes by ensuring that the policies enacted and implemented safeguard their interests, create safe, secure, and stigma-free environments. He went on to share the environmental child rights petition calling on the respect of the right to a healthy environment internationally available at http://www.my-planet-my-rights.org.

The 2021 AMI also saw the organisation launching a research on the barriers to women’s full participation in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. The challenges as highlighted in the research include violence against women, lack of capital and access to credit facilities, lack collateral, lack of information, among other challenges. Much emphasis was placed on how these challenges can be addressed with lessons drawn from countries such as Tanzania where the government has supported women led associations to get funding, which is a positive women empowerment process.

From ministerial level all the way to ASM, the status of women at all levels can be improved by ensuring that gender issues are considered in legal and policy design through gender mainstreaming. This could be manifested through supporting awareness-raising activities around women’s property rights, access to finance and credit, access to local savings and loan schemes and involvement in land-use decisions.


[1] http://www.zela.org/download/research-on-the-impact-of-mining-on-children-youthsright-to-a-healthy-sustainable-environment-in-zimbabwe/

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