President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) in Tarkwa in the Western Region.
The initiative is aimed at helping to reduce the hardships persons in mining communities endured as a result of activities of Operation Halt in those areas.
NAELP is an intervention spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
The programme has six modules namely: National Land Reclamation and Re-Afforestation Programme, Agriculture and Agro-Processing, Apprenticeship, Skills Training and Entrepreneurship, Responsible, Viable and Sustainable Small-Scale Community Mining, my Support Services and Community Enhancements Project.
Speaking during the launch of the initiative at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) on Monday, October 25, 2021, President Akufo-Addo was hopeful the programme will achieve its intended purpose.
“In our effort to ensure that we protect the environment, we had to take far-reaching measures, including, authorising the military in Operation Halt II to take action against some illegal miners, as well as decommissioning and demobilising machines and equipment used for illegal mining in forest reserves and water bodies, which have been declared Red Zones for mining.”
“Far-reaching as these measures may be, they were necessary to halt and reverse the trend of ever-increasing turbidity of our waters, and to protect and safeguard our environment for posterity, as dictated by our national Constitution,” he said.
The President explained that the NAELP will help to provide alternative sources of livelihood for persons affected by action taken against illegal miners and their dependents.
“This Programme, first of all, seeks to ameliorate the unavoidable and unintended hardships which our efforts to sanitize the Small-Scale mining sector has created, particularly in the five regions that Operation Halt II carried out its operations. It is intended to provide good economic livelihood options to the illegal mining and associated activities, to enable those adversely impacted to work and support themselves and their families.”
The President noted that the NAELP will also help to reverse the negative impact the illegal mining activities had on the environment.
He said this will be done through the National Land Reclamation and Reafforestation component of the Programme.
“Given that most of our degraded lands are due to illegal mining activities, it is just fitting, that any Programme targeting illegal mining includes a reclamation Programme. This component of the Programme will restore such lands into economically viable lands, creating job opportunities for the youth, landowners, and communities at large“, he said.
President Akufo-Addo further said the six-module NAELP programme will have adequate budgetary allocation under the 2022 budget for its effective implementation.
“The Community Mining Schemes will be supported by the Mine Support Services, and together, are expected to create some220,000 direct and indirect employment. Let me reiterate, that the Government will not condone any illegal activities in the mining sector. The enhanced monitoring and enforcement regime we have put in place, under the auspices of the resourced Mine Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission, and the Regional Security Councils, will ensure that all small-scale mining activities are environmentally compliant… Additionally, on my instructions, the Ministry of Finance has committed to making adequate budgetary allocation in the upcoming 2022 Budget and Fiscal Policy of Government to fund this very important Programme”, he added.
The Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel A. Jinapor also at the event said his ministry came out of the programme after nationwide consultation to find a solution to the problems of small-scale mining.
“We have undertaken several consultations with relevant stakeholders to solicit their support for the measures we are taking. I have, therefore, led the Ministry to engage with the Council of State, the National House of Chiefs, all Regional Ministers, civil society organisations in the mining sector, the Ghana Chamber of Mines, leadership of Small-Scale Miners, miners in the field, and many others. The outcomes of these engagements have been very positive, and I thank all involved for their co-operation.”
“Under the instructions of Mr President, we have also embarked on a nationwide tour to mobilize mass support for government action… At this moment, in the historic mining town of Tarkwa, our visionary, competent, and caring President is about to lay, arguably, the final major block of the framework required to regulate the age-old small-scale mining sector, and that is, the launch of the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme for Illegal Miners. Undoubtedly, this programme will give us the necessary moral authority and courage to continue to pursue our goal of cleaning up this sector, as an alternative avenue for employment being created by the government for illegal miners who will fall through the cracks“, he said.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah, welcomed the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme and hoped it will better the lots of miners in the region.
“For a region that has Youth Development as a mainstream agenda, we see this initiative as complementary to the achievement of our agenda. We, therefore, have no option than to lend our utmost support towards the successful implementation of this great initiative,“ he said.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology, Professor Richard Kwasi Amankwah who hosted the event announced that UMaT has begun rolling out training programmes to support the beneficiaries of the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme.