Women from all walks of life are travelling to the mining site in Gbani in the Talensi district of the upper east region and are effectively engaging in the small scale mining also known as “GALAMSY” in an effort to make ends meet notwithstanding the dangers associated with the activity.
The women numbering about 500 are coming from different locations in Ghana and are supporting their families through the proceeds from the little Gold they locally mine.
I made a journey to Gbani community in ascertaining the motives and way of life of women in the area. Gbani community for the past 10 years has been a survival hub for many Ghanaians who leave their families behind to Gbani in search for gold.
Despite the rich gold deposits in the area, the community lacks basic social amenities like proper sanitation, health center, electricity, good drinking water and others.
Thirty percent of small scale miners in the Gbani community are women who are involved in small scale mining activities combining petty trading as a supportive venture and majority of them are widows. Some of the mining activities they undertake are collecting of ore (stone containing gold), crashing, grinding, washing of ore powder and gold separation. Some of the activities are aided by drop out children who help them in some of these activities in return for wages. Nevertheless, some of the women are nursing mothers and are dangering the lives of these innocent babies involving them in the activities without any health precautions.
Talking about health implications, the women themselves together with the drop out children do not use protective garments in their activities posing a lot of health disorders to the human systems.
In an interview with the women, they enumerated a lot of motives of them engaging in the activities which includes the supportive role in helping their husbands and taking care of their children paying of school fees, lack of available women related jobs in the cities among others.
On my arrival, some of the women were taking advantage of an exercise that is been carried out by shaanxi mining company a Chinese company in the area giving out mining support to two small scale miners in the area to cover up illegal pits around their emergency exits from which three miners died as a result of a normal ore blast some months ago. As a result of the digging by their excavators, a lot ores were found giving the women an easy work of gathering ores for further processing.
Efforts to speak to the environmental protection agency in Bolgatanga prove futile to find out measures putting into place to protect lives in this mining community especially where women and children are involved.
Due to the extensive economic hardship in this part of the country have compelled these women to ignore the dangers and its associates implications just in the name of family survival.