Bank Information Center, Citizens for Justice, Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty and Straight Talk Foundation gather to launch the Oak Foundation financed project: Child Rights and Safety in the Extractive Industry Sector in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda
Representatives from three different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda on 4th and 5th November 2015 launched the project “Child Rights and Safety in the Extractive Industry Sector in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda” at the Protea Hotel Courtyard in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The three NGOs are Citizens for Justice (CFJ) from Malawi, Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty (FEMAPO) from Tanzania and Straight Talk Foundation (STF) from Uganda.
The main objectives of the project, funded by the Oak Foundation, are to analyze the impact of World Bank funded projects with a focus on the extractive industry sector (mining, oil and gas) on children’s rights in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda and to advise on specific actions to mitigate such impacts. The project will also focus on enhancing the capacity of governments and non-state actors to address impacts of the extractive industry on children in line with the recommendations of General Comment 16. The project will be implemented in these three counties by each of the organizations with CFJ as the lead coordinator and project secretariat. The international advocacy and advisory role for the project will be provided by the Bank Information Centre (BIC) from Washington, DC, USA. The project will also ensure implementation of the Oak Foundation’s child rights principles as CFJ is participating in training and a benchmarking process on child rights principles being led by Child To Child.
The decision to conduct the project in these three countries was reached because Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda are some of the countries in the region that are experiencing growing interest in the extractive industries. Malawi over the past few years has opened its doors to a number of international mining companies to start mining for gemstones and minerals including coal, uranium and metals, with a previously existing mining of lime and cement in the country. There are also activities to explore oil from Lake Malawi which has been an issue of concern for many Malawians from legal, social, economic and environmental perspectives. Tanzania has experienced growth in the mining sector; it is now the fourth largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa, Ghana and Mali. Other minerals that have been identified in Tanzania include iron ore, nickel, copper, silver, diamond, garnet, soda ash, gypsum, coal and uranium. For this reason, multi-national companies (MNCs) have acquired licenses to explore and exploit these minerals. Copper, phosphorus, uranium, diamond and gold are the main resources that are being extracted in Uganda with significant work being done in both Uganda and Tanzania to exploit oil and gas reserves.
The World Bank is funding extractive industry projects in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. These projects are new and as a result mechanisms, either judicial or non-judicial, must be introduced through policy and legal instruments to mitigate the impact of World Bank funded extractive industry projects on child rights in the three countries. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the mining sector. In the mining sites and the surrounding communities in all these countries, children are exposed to many problems and child rights violations such as child marriages, child labor, rape/defilement as well as the violation of basic rights like the right to protection, education and to play, just to mention a few. It is therefore vital to put in place interventions to address these issues to make sure that the rights of the children are protected, fulfilled and respected as called for by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that all three countries have signed up to.
This post was written by Elias Jika who is a Project Officer with CFJ, working on child rights and the extractive industries. He is currently participating in training on child rights principles being run by Child To Child with funding from the Oak Foundation.