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Is the god of diamonds alone? The role of institutions in artisanal mining in forest landscapes, Congo Basin


  • Schure, Jolien
  • Ingram, Verina
  • Tieguhong, Julius Chupezi
  • Ndikumagenge, Cleto


This paper examines the institutional framework of artisanal mining in the forests of the Sangha Tri-National Landscape (TNS) in the Congo Basin. Artisanal miners in Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR) commonly make sacrifices to their god of diamonds, to improve fortunes. This study looks into ‘the other forces’; institutions that play a role in shaping the sector and its outcomes. These institutions comprise formal and informal institutions at a local, national, regional and international level. Although artisanal miners in TNS benefit by gaining cash income, this activity also carries risks as income is highly disparate and environmental impacts in this priority forest conservation area are expected to increase due to the growing competition over land use. It was concluded from a literature review, interviews and site visits that informal arrangements dominate the sector, especially in Cameroon, leading to poor relations between officials and miners and meaning that miners have few rights and no voice. The current institutional setup is inadequate to deal with current and anticipated social and environmental issues. Future interventions need to take into account the existing (local) types of organization, vulnerable groups, the interests of multiple actors and the fact that most miners are experienced but combine mining with other activities, such as agriculture, fishing and harvesting forest products. African initiatives concerning ASM offer opportunities to Cameroon and CAR to collaborate with other countries to combat similar issues. A regional integrated approach of both the forest and mining sector would be especially relevant for trans-boundary agreements, such as concerning the TNS, to reinforce positive outcomes for the landscape and the area's population.

Suggested Citation

  • Schure, Jolien & Ingram, Verina & Tieguhong, Julius Chupezi & Ndikumagenge, Cleto, 2011. "Is the god of diamonds alone? The role of institutions in artisanal mining in forest landscapes, Congo Basin," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 363-371.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:4:p:363-371
    DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2011.09.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:366222 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tschakert, Petra, 2009. "Recognizing and nurturing artisanal mining as a viable livelihood," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 24-31.
    3. Leach, Melissa & Mearns, Robin & Scoones, Ian, 1999. "Environmental Entitlements: Dynamics and Institutions in Community-Based Natural Resource Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 225-247, February.
    4. Hilson, Gavin, 2009. "Small-scale mining, poverty and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa: An overview," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 1-5.
    5. Hilson, Gavin, 2008. "'A load too heavy': Critical reflections on the child labor problem in Africa's small-scale mining sector," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1233-1245, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Virginia Haufler, 2009. "The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An Innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 89(4), pages 403-416, March.
    8. 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.
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    1. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:97-108 is not listed on IDEAS


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