WACAM trains 2,000 activists

Wacam, human rights, environmental and mining advocacy organisation has trained more than 2,000 activists to champion the cause of more than 100 vulnerable communities affected by mining in its 15 years of existence.

A statement issued to mark the 15th anniversary of the formation of Wacam said the technological change from underground mining to surface mining in the 1980s  and the use of cyanide in heap-leach method of gold extraction altered the mining sector drastically.

The statement jointly signed by Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director and Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng,  Associate Executive Director of Wacam, and co- founders said  the changed unleashed  myriad  of problems including cyanide spillages;, loss of livelihoods; water and air pollution; mining related health problems in mining communities; resettlement and relocation of communities and youth unemployment as farming lands were given out to mining companies.

It  said it was in the midst of all these that Wacam was founded to champion the cause of vulnerable mining communities  against a very powerful mining lobby.

“Some mining communities live with scars of gross human rights abuses, social and environmental problems that had been documented by institutions including  the Commission on Human Rights Administrative Justice in 2008.”

The statement said: “Wacam adopted the method of popular mobilisation of vulnerable mining communities around critical issues to seek local and national attention. in 1993 and by 1996 we had been able to mobilise some communities including  Atuabo and Akontanse and other smaller communities and involved the resettlement of about 30,000 people by Goldfields Ghana Limited from their original settlements to New Atuabo, near Tarkwa.

“We realised that the mining lobby was very powerful and we would only be efficient in holding the mining companies in check if we built a mass movement of mining communities; media; intellectuals; NGOs; faith-based organisations and organised labour.

“We organised regular workshops for our activists on various subjects including the Minerals and Mining Law, Act 703 (2006); The Public Order Act;  Leadership Skills; Negotiation Skills;  Mining and Development; Compensation and Human Rights.”

It said Wacam is at present  working in 100 mining communities in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo; Western and Eastern Regions.

“We have a programme  under IBIS( a non-profit Danish organisation) where we are sharing our mining advocacy  experience with NGOs and mining communities in the three Northern Regions.

“Through Oxfam America, Wacam worked with  with NGOs in Mali and Senegal. Our work in the West African Sub-Region contributed to the development of ECOWAS Directives  on Harmonisation of Guidelines and Policies in the Mining Sector.

“We changed our name  from Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) to Wacam meaning you have bitten me in Akan, to reflect the expansion of Wacam and to open it to all Ghanaians. The name was derived from a suggestion made by Nana Enimil Kuma, Chief of Huni-Valley when he launched the organisation,”  the statement said.

The statement cited a number of people for their contribution to the growth of Wacam. They included Ibrahim Issahaku; Baba Umaru Tsalhatu; Professor Ralph K. Asabre; Daniel Amoah;  and Ralph Agbalenyo.

Source: GNA

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