Socioeconomic dimensions of mercury pollution abatement: Engaging artisanal mining communities in Sub-Saharan Africa
In recent years, strategies to tackle mercury pollution from artisanal gold mining have mainly included restrictions -- banning mercury trade internationally, prescribing alternate technologies and tightening regulations on mining (e.g. banning mercury use). However, artisanal mining communities in Africa are often trapped in cycles of poverty that make it difficult for workers to improve technologies and reduce mercury pollution. This article assesses problems with narrow pollution abatement discourses and top-down regulations, examining the need for integrated approaches to address pollution and socioeconomic challenges in low income mining communities. It advances the hypothesis that pollution abatement strategies fail if they do not explicitly address local socioeconomic capacities for improving environmental management, informed by an adaptive understanding of labor dynamics. Case studies in Mozambique and Tanzania are examined where United Nations pilot projects sought to address local challenges. These combined training on improved technologies and environmental risk mitigation with efforts to empower miners by enhancing access to microfinance services and fairer gold marketing arrangements. These case studies demonstrate adaptive ways of engaging local concerns in mining areas, highlighting lessons that are especially urgent now that recent policy commitments from Europe and the United States to ban mercury exports have specifically sought to make mercury more expensive for African mining communities. Ultimately, the analysis suggests how regionally focused ecological economics research has a vital role to play in (a) revealing how narrowly conceived responses to pollution can yield counterproductive results as well as exacerbate exploitative labor conditions in low income contexts; and (b) stimulating analytic focus on innovative ways of integrating pollution reduction strategy with grassroots socioeconomic empowerment strategies.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hilson, Gavin & Pardie, Sandra, 2006. "Mercury: An agent of poverty in Ghana's small-scale gold-mining sector?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 106-116, June.
- Tschakert, Petra, 2009. "Recognizing and nurturing artisanal mining as a viable livelihood," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 24-31.
- Mohammed Banchirigah, Sadia, 2006. "How have reforms fuelled the expansion of artisanal mining? Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 165-171, September.
- Spiegel, Samuel J., 2009. "Resource policies and small-scale gold mining in Zimbabwe," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 39-44.
- Dondeyne, S. & Ndunguru, E. & Rafael, P. & Bannerman, J., 2009. "Artisanal mining in central Mozambique: Policy and environmental issues of concern," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 45-50.
- Gavin Hilson & Sadia Mohammed Banchirigah, 2009. "Are Alternative Livelihood Projects Alleviating Poverty in Mining Communities? Experiences from Ghana," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(2), pages 172-196.
- Eleanor Fisher, 2008. "Artisanal gold mining at the margins of mineral resource governance: a case from Tanzania," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 199-213.
- Heemskerk, Marieke, 2001. "Do international commodity prices drive natural resource booms? An empirical analysis of small-scale gold mining in Suriname," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 295-308, November.
- Ishihara, Hiroe & Pascual, Unai, 2009. "Social capital in community level environmental governance: A critique," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 1549-1562, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:12:p:3072-3083. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.