Community Leaders in Karonga say imparting knowledge on mining laws and policies to local governance structures is key to ensuring that communities are reaping fruits from the minerals that are being extracted in their areas.
The remarks were made recently at Hangarawe, Chilumba in the area of Senior Chief Wasambo and at Iponga in the area of Senior Chief Mwakaboko respectively where the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) held trainings with Religious, community leaders and community journalists among others aimed at equipping them with knowledge on mining laws and policies.
The call also come amid continued reports of exploitation of mineral resources allegedly which is being smuggled out of the country leaving communities in and around the mining sights short-changed.
Speaking in an interview Chairperson for Mwakaboko Area Development Committee (ADC) Edward Chitete, said local communities are often victims of negative effects of mining as they are not benefiting from the extractive minerals.
He observed that due to their outreach and influence at local level, community leaders are best placed to advocate for the rights of communities by taking to task the legal and corporate duty bearers hence hailed the training.
“Due to a lack of knowledge on mining laws communities were being taken advantage of by mining investors therefore exploiting them from the resources that were being extracted,” he said.
Harry Mhango a Faith Leader at Wasambo said the community leaders will use the knowledge to advocate for transparency and accountability in the mining sector.
“We thank God for bringing CCJP to us to equip us with information on mining laws and policies and because of the knowledge gained we are confident of seeing things changing in mining communities for the better,” Mhango explained.
CCJP Project Coordinator Obert Mkandawire said despite Karonga possessing a wealth of minerals such as uranium and coal its unfortunate that communities continue to experience challenges in benefiting from the natural resources.
Mkandawire said CCJP thought of equipping communities with Mining Laws and policy knowledge in a bid to empower communities.
“Transparency and accountability remains a huge challenge especially in communities were minerals are being extracted as secrecy over revenues and contracts continue to cast a heavy shadow in the sector hence through the trainings communities will be in a better place to interact with mining companies to demand what’s theirs from the extractions,” he said.
With financial support from Norwegian Church Aid, CCJP has implemented the 5 year Enhancing Social Accountability in Local Governance to Reduce Inequality for an Inclusive Malawi Project in Traditional Wasambo and TA Mwakaboko in the district.