The Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) has called on the government to give part of the Ada Songor Lagoon concession to the community in order to curb communal violence and resistance.
The non-governmental organization warned that the current capitalist takeover threatens the livelihoods of women who have been marginally incorporated into the activities of Electrochem Ghana Limited.
NETRIGHT asked the government to resolve the tension in the customary ownership of the lagoon through a transparent process that focuses on community development and aspirations.
At a NETRIGHT and Third World Network (TWN) Africa Power of Voices Project round table discussion in Accra themed “Inclusive Development in Ghana's Extractive Sector,” Dr Gertrude Dzifa Torvikey, a Research Fellow of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), made the recommendations.
The meeting discussed topics such as “From Policy to Practice: Unpacking the African Mining Vision from Gender Perspective: “Contestation and Resistance: Salt Production in the Ada Songor Lagoon Area and “Gender Dynamics in Extractives Value Chains: Policy Gaps, Challenges and Prospects.”
Women form the minority of the workforce in the extractive sector and are exposed to environmental and economic hazards. Eight per cent of the workforce in the petroleum sector is female, while 14 per cent work in gold and diamond mining and 20 per cent in salt mining and winning.
Salt mining has been a source of livelihood for rural women in Ghana's coastal areas. Salt is a vital ingredient in food preparation and preservation and could significantly contribute to Ghana's Gross Domestic Product.
Dr Torvikey, who is also a consultant, stressed the need for Ghana to return to its commitment to the African Mining Vision framework. Dr Torvikey, who was one of the researchers who conducted research work on the Contestation and Resistance: Salt production in the Ada Songor Lagoon Area last year, noted that artisanal salt mining had been marginalized.
The key issues with the business plan of Electrochem Ghana Limited (EGL) promoted the monopolization of salt in Ada by the private sector, and priority was only given to natives for unskilled labour jobs.
According to Dr Torvikey, the plan also aimed to encourage the relocation and displacement of communities, and EGL's takeover had ignited new contestation and old disputes among the people of Ada.
Dr Torvikey called for sustained advocacy around salt mining for the development of the economy and a renewed engagement around the Master Plan of Salt Development in salt mining communities. She noted that Ghana's 500 km coastal front was interspersed with lagoons for salt production, and Ghana was producing 250,000 metric tonnes per year, but it could produce eight times more salt.
She added that women constituted a larger population in the salt-winning business but were being denied their livelihood.
Madam Pauline Vande-Pallen, Programmes Officer, TWN Africa, noted that the Africa Mining Vision, adopted by heads of State in 2009, was not gender-responsive. She emphasized the importance of exploring the Africa Mining Vision to integrate mining much better into development policies at local, national, and regional levels with a greater focus on gender issues.
Madam Patricia Blankson Akakpo, Head of NETRIGHT Secretariat, said the roundtable aimed to bring together actors in the extractive sector to discuss gender gaps in policies and legislation regulating the sector. She added that discussants would also delve into challenges facing artisanal small-scale miners and their various implications on their livelihood.
Madam Akakpo proposed recommendations to inform advocacy and interventions to promote gender-transformative reforms in the extractive sector. The meeting brought together government officials