Integrity Watch calls on Afghan government to engage with communities to develop the mining sector

July 27, 2020, Kabul—Integrity Watch’s new study of community engagement in the mining sector shows that the role of local communities in mining areas is very weak and the government has not institutionalized public engagement through any long-term strategy. The report provides the ground and a working basis for civil society organization willing to develop a community monitoring project in the mining sector and states that there is vast potential in engaging communities in the mining sector including prevention of illegal mining, increasing government revenues and contributing to stability and security at local level.

Mr. Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, speaking at the launch of the report, stated, “The government has taken some steps to engage the public in the extractive sector. However, these efforts have been sporadic, have not been informed by Afghan and global experiences and have therefore not been effective during the past ten years.” In early July 2020, the cabinet decided that governors should collect information from local communities about mining sites within 10 days. Mr. Afzali continued, “It is a welcome step by the government but it needs to be systematic and well-thought out. Our experiences of Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) in other sectors prove that public engagement can improve accountability and build trust between the government and the citizens. The Afghan government can build trust and provide people with a constant channel of communication by engaging communities in the monitoring of mining operations throughout the mining cycle from exploration to extraction.”

Ms. Charlotte Boyer, the author of the report, states, “This report outlines the dos and do-nots of engaging people in the extractive sector and this could be used by civil society, government and the private sector to understand people’s views and design their engagement mechanisms with the communities around the mining sites.” She continued, “Most of the people who agreed to be interviewed during the field study said they were in favour of CBM-like initiatives.”

The report suggests 15 parameters that could be taken into consideration while engaging the people in the mining sector: Community consultation, land compensation, impact on air, impact on water, impact on water streams, land rehabilitation, noise disturbance, impact on the state of roads, mine production, working conditions, design and implementation of social projects, the existence and use of grievance redressal mechanisms, the impact on women’s lives, revenue transfer to communities, and the use of local resources. According to the report, civil society organizations should facilitate community engagement by choosing relevant parameters according to the type of mines, priorities of the communities and the resources available. One of the models that could be used is community-based monitoring – a methodology developed by Integrity Watch and used by it over the past ten years. Under this model, communities are mobilized and trained, a literate and honest member of the community is elected to monitor the mining site, and then she/he reports to her/his community and Integrity Watch on the progress and challenges. The issues identified are shared on regularly basis with the company and local government to be addressed.

 

About the research

The report has studied 18 mining sites in 7 provinces between January and March 2020. Around thirty people were interviewed at provincial and national level and the views of around thirty community members were received and analyzed. The mining sites included Cement Ghori, Kar Kar and Dod Kash in Baghlan, Maihan Navid Soil Gravel Mine,  Bakhtair Crystal, Soil Gravel Mine, Ford Bamika Soil Grave Mine, and Afghan-Tajik Basin Oil and Gas Project in  Balkh, Amu Darya Basin Oil Field in Sar-e Pul, Qarizada Salt Mine  Faryab, Yatem Taq Gas Field and Khawja Gogerdak Gas Field in Juzjan, Mohammad Shamal Coal Mine, Mesaq-e Sharg Coal Mine, and Khoshak Brothers Coal Mine in Samangan, and West Co. Kalafghan Salt Mine, West Co Namakab Salt Mine and Khalid Aziz Brothers Company Coal Mine in Takhar provinces. Please see full details of the mining sites in the Annex I of the report at Integrity Watch’s website. The data was collected and managed by an Afghan team and authored by an international expert.

 

For more information, please contact:

Ibrahim Khan Jabarkhail, Advocacy Officer, Integrity Watch at 0702028692 or i.khan@integritywatch.org