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EXTRACTIVISM: A SILENT KILLER OF HEALTH & ECOLOGIES IN AFRICA

With the overwhelming new gear of economic advancement of States in the African region accompanied by the heavy profit projections of the multinational corporations from global-north in the mineral sectors, Extractivism is being embraced as the new dominant and modified model of economic growth, development and economic diversification to transform countries from tradition economies to modern industrialized economies. Extractivism under capitalism economic system is predominantly controlled and steered by multinational and transnational corporations, with the states characteristically assigned the prime role of putting in place retentive economic environment necessary for a substantial and sustained wealth accumulation by the established companies and their allied capitalistic interests. However, this is unrelentlessly continuing the enormous destructions on the ecosystems and conservation approaches of the environmentalists in Africa. The overpowering ambitions of boasting the Countries’ Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) and nations’ income per capitas are being prioritized as the major front goals henceforth strengthening the divergence between the environmental and political-economic approaches to extractivism. The awful climate dynamic implications that come lengthwise with the extractivism activities are unimaginable in-spite of its heavy rewarding economic rent gains as discussed below in the following discourses based the implications of extractivism on several countries across the land mass of Africa.

Uganda

Extractivism in Uganda has existed since the colonial era through the post-independence period though its activities have been amplified by the discovery of oil which is widening the minerals’ bracket. Extractivism in Uganda is mainly done for exportation of the raw-form minerals by the multinational corporations through private sector investments to the foreign markets and highly industrialized global-north nations that have highly-advanced appropriate technology to convert mined minerals into finished valuable treasurable products. However, the negative implications of extractivism on the ecosystems and the populations in the mining regions have been given less attention by the economists and politicians in order to create a leeway for the heavy economic gains.

Extractivism has been characterized by enormous displacement of both wildlife and human settlements in Uganda. Albertine graben region had seven ecosystem areas that were most protected for ecotourism but after oil exploration, these are vanishing one at a time every passing year due to the government’s goal to secure the projected 20billion US Dollars revenue expected from oil, which is making some undocile animals and birds to migrate to other human-activity free areas due to the noise and temperature dynamics. Internal displacements of people in the oil regions are the foremost point of concern in the social adverse effects of eixtractivism. This is resulting into creation of group-temporary roofs commonly termed as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps due to land grabbing and conflicts fueled by well-connected island of unscrupulous civil corporate controls. In the recent past researches, reports show over seven thousand people had been affected by land evictions in Hoima district and in article by (Nalubega, 2014), Buliisa the Member of Parliament, Stephen Mukitale (2011-2016) questioned the manner in which his constituents were being evicted., with over 120 land cases in Buliisa caused by land grabbers who are conniving with some of the district leaders, the same vice has been witnessed in Nwoya District where there is an escalating number of land conflicts which started in 2006, around the time oil was found, farming activities are diminishing every passing day due to the restricted access to land in these areas yet people must find means of survival. They therefore fight against these dominant structures for their only asset to secure their fundamental right to land as the only source of livelihood which is under attack. During dislodgments, vulnerable women and the children are the most affected in contrast to men. This is because land in most impoverished communities is the only source of income through farming. Therefore land grabbing intercepts their subsistence and commercial farming activities which incapacitates and cripples their financial muscles thus making such societies deprived of access to fundamental basic necessities of life, adequate feeding and personal developments. This further exacerbates the gender disparity and income Gini-coefficient gap due to the gender structuralized economic violence against women through socio-economic system pathways that harm their welfare especially the penniless underprivileged and indigenous women. Case in point, women being the dominant rudimentary miners of salt on lake Katwe salt mines, reports have emerged through ((NAPE)., 2014) On a typical day, more than 4,000 women and men of Katwe spend more than eight hours under the scorching equatorial sun harvesting salt from the highly polluted waters, which contain concentrated salt (brine), ammonia, hydrogen and other gases. The miners work without protective gear and suffer the consequences of prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals and inadequate access to health care. Although salt minning is done predominantly by women, the majority hold no ownership of either the process or the profits.

The Resource Governance in Uganda which incorporates management and allocation of resources is being hovered by a micro- and personalized system of resource management through a tight terrifying resource militarization. This is evidently and heavily being felt by the natives in the resource regions, done to protect the interests of a group of black-to-black apartheid oppressive and autocratic rulers, the despotic Museveni-bush men and company. Since they are the country managers, they tend to owe unbreakable materialistic-allegiance to the transnational mining corporations, with the intent of expanding and strengthening their financial empires and grip on power. In return, due to the constrained and expensive regulatory and bureaucratic procedures, the transnational corporations in extractivism leverage on maximizing resource exploitation with limited inclusion of ecosystem protection into their management systems and programmes. Given their strong set-of-capacities and influence in the global oil and gas industry, transnational corporations tend to compromise the global climate change policy enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which undermines and violates the sovereignty of some states especially the LICs in the global-south because the corporations tend to parade their economic interests above the environmental, and social interests of people.

Ghana

Earlier known as Gold Coast, Ghana is the second biggest producer of gold in the Africa Continent and the 9th across the globe, this contributes 40% to the Ghana’s gross forex earnings, a correspondent of approximately 5.7% of the country’s GDP. Due to its considerable significance on the social and economic growth entwined with huge development volumes of the country, the extraction sector is one of the priority points of the country’s Economic Recovery Program (ERP) since 1983. Subsequently, new mineral and mining activities laws were legislated and the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency and Minerals Commission (EPAMC) was instituted to provide procedures and supervisory structure for this sector the mines (Albert K. Mensah, 2015)..

However, since the demon of wealth discontentment has never flee the minds of the greedy African rulers. Extractivism is still an economic demon wave ruining the biodiversities and the African citizenry. Even Ghana has suffered this dilemma from land grabbing to social differentiation, from intensified migration to food insecurity especially in the northern parts.

Large scale land acquisition is dislodging subsistence farmers and reworking agricultural social relations in northern parts of Ghana. In the report on land grabbing (Kerr, 2016) the previous upsurge of woodland enclosure due to the extractivism undertakings has not only stemmed up the land scarcity, but also raised a noticeable social differentiation within farming populations. The overriding form of disparity is sprouting a new strata of the landless and closeby-landless farmers due to the evictions. Majority of the families cope up with such dynamics by digging deeper their own self-exploitation in the production stage. Self-exploitation has been worsened by greater monopoly over land resources by men than had previously been the case due to the strong system of patriarchy. Therefore women’s rights to use land as wives, mothers and daughters are becoming uncertain and insecure due to the exacerbated acute land shortages, and their vegetal plots are being re-classified as patriarchal-controlled household fields.

This has eventually resulted into excruciating choices that landless agrarians have to make in order to meet their livelihood needs, meagre wages from hard farm labor work and sharecropping contracts. In these income alleyways, there surface again exploitative dealings of production, whereby the surplus is taken from the land-dispossessed migrant laborers and concentrated with farm owners. These dynamics produce a ‘simple reproduction squeeze’ for the land-dispossessed.

Besides the dislodgement of people to pave way for extractivism activities, There has been considerable heavy pollution by mining undertakings especially those of prohibited small-scale mining (commonly referred to as ‘galamsey’). Surface mining results into adversative environmental effects on water bodies (rivers and streams) and bio-diversities through the release of effluents such as mercury, arsenic and solid suspensions. These, their spillages and leakages have contaminated some major rivers in Ghana. Reports have emerged showing how cyanide spills and leakages by mining companies such as Teberebie Goldfields Ltd and Ashanti Goldfield Company Ltd (now AngloGold Ashanti) resulted in polluting the Anikoko, Angonabe, Bodwire and Assaman rivers, all in the Ghana western region. This has led to a significant loss of aquatic organisms, displacement of people, and a depletion of livelihood and drinking water for some communities.

There is also land devoid of flora cover with massive erosion befalling in one of the abandoned mined site at Prestea (Kerr, 2016). Erosion has stemmed the removal of soil nutrients due to the excess prevalence and use of mercury, causing siltation, turbidity and eutrophication of the nearby rivers; thus leading to reduction of land productivity, reduced water quality, and toned down ecosystems, among others.

Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the countries on African continent that have pumped a lot of investment expenditures into mineral development in the mineral endowed parts of the country. But most exploration programs have not  been  designed  to  cater  for the environmental reconstruction  as   well  as  coming up with robust measures to condense the  overall  effect  of mining  activity.  It  is  worthy to  state  categorically that  mineral  exploration  and  exploitation programs  must  be  carefully  carried  out  under  a structured  program  to  prevent  environmental degradation.  However,  this  is  always  not  the case  especially  in  the  developing  countries where  semi-skilled  and  most  times  unskilled artisans  engage  in  mineral  mining lack adequate expertise to  narrow  down the adverse effects that rise from the exploration phase  which  often  results  in environmental degradation.

For over half a century, oil exploration has turned Nigeria into the vessel of the biggest natural gas reserve and the largest oil producer in the African continent. The country makes an enormous sum of money from oil transactions. This is where it raises roughly 98% of its foreign exchange earnings from exports, making it a monophonic economy. Regrettably, oil exploration for over decades of time has left the environs of the region significantly degraded. Which is negatively affecting the social, economic and traditional life of the society. This analysis points out the socio-cultural adverse implications of crude oil exploration on the individuals of the Niger Delta, from where the largest volumes of crude oil are explored.

Niger Delta region in Nigeria is reflected as one of the major crucial bio-diversity hotspots, universally covering numerous ecologies stretching from freshwater streams and mangrove swamplands to tropical rainforests. It is considered as the largest wetland in the land mass of Africa and is hierarchically classified among the earth’s ten greatest significant wetlands and marine ecosystems (Matemilola, 2018). However, when the extractivism activities begun in the region in 1958, rapidly it altered the pattern of the physical environment. The ongoing petroleum activities have and are still polluting the areas’ aquatic bodies, and exacerbated deforestation and also biodiversity nature loss. The major activities in the Niger Delta land include fishing, farming, collecting and processing of palm fruits, and hunting. But, the exploration of oil has grossly affected the safe living of the local societies who depend on the ecosystems for their survival, thereby worsening the poverty levels in the region and dislodging much of the indigenous community. After the destruction of social and economic lives of the local citizenry, food production has gone extremely. The tension for the redemption of the adulterated environment by the youths has fully-fledged into a deadly militancy. The cherished cultural values have been eroded away and there are intra- and intercommunal clashes leading to huge casualties. Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil-producing region has gathered only a modest amount of media attention due to the fact that the conflict between anti-oil insurgents and the Nigerian government has been going on for a long while, for over two decades, that there’s a little bit of  “Niger Delta crash”  Or may be the Niger Delta radical militants have no connections with the extremist Islamic groups and have shown no interest in murdering the innocent – instead to make attacks on targets like pipelines, drill sites, tankers and facilities in order to suffocate oil production and paralyze the government muscle economically. Reports show that, the conflict in the Niger Delta region has defied all the earlier interventions by the government largely due to lack of determination on the side of the political leaders. Unfortunately, the struggle during the democratic dispensation had substantial consequences on Nigeria when the day-to-day oil production drastically dropped from 2.5 million to 700,000 barrels per day (et-el, 2018). This coupled with malicious loss of lives and properties which created the need to achieve instant end of hostility on one hand, and on the other hand, to begin a developmental process in the region. It was this craving that necessitated the introduction of an amnesty program in the Niger Delta region.

The transnational oil corporations are growing and flourishing economically at the expense of the impecunious, the ethnic groups have seen little of the wealth generated by the oil production in the area, while facing the terrible implications of the widespread environmental degradation induced by exploration and production activities. The government remarkably launched in June 2016 a $1 billion Clean Up and Restoration Programme of the Ogoniland in the Niger Delta area announcing that the financial and legislative framework was to be established in place to begin implementing the recommendations made by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (ChibuikeAllison, 2018), however, there is little that has been realized from this programme.

Zimbabwe

Was once marked as one of the strongest economies in Africa, however this fell in the dance-tune of history due to the gruesome economic policy mismanagement through the expulsion of white farmers and the rampant corruption that downrightly destroyed the country. This was worsened by the numerous sanctions that the country was subjected to in response to the political violence and human rights violations in the ex-president’s regime Robert Mugabe. The economy has experienced a slow economic redemption with the least GDP per capita in the world due to the drastic performance deterioration of the economy as a result of a sharp fall in foreign exchange earnings and the heavy hyperinflation that hit the country which led to the eventual suspension of the national currency. With the prevailing deficiency in infrastructure development, the country still suffers a slow recovery of the national income expenditure multipliers, such as investment, consump tion, savings, export and expenditure government multipliers. However, the government under the new regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has embarked on new economic reforms with investment eyes fixed on restoration inclusive development through commercial farming and mining industry. The country is heavily relying on commercial minerals deposits such as platinum, gold, asbestos, coal, nickel, coal, diamond, iron ore and chromite. However, the implications of diamond mining are becoming heavily eminent and activists’ concern in Zimbabwe due to the social and environmental adversative and destructive impacts that are associated with the activity ranging from displacements and health consequences to the trauma of the recent shocking bloody Marange diamond fields massacres that claimed hundreds of people in the last years of Mugabe’s regime. Diamond mining here has been negatively dominated by land grabbing, displacement of communities, pollution, erosion, child labor and gross human rights violations against women and girls through rape and defilement (Pictures, 2016).

Thousands of researches have shown how land grabbing problem has hit the entire continent of Africa due to the weak and impotent thieving government compensation policies. However this has not spared the country that was hit by the worst hyperinflation of the 21st century -Zimbabwe. Reports have emerged showing how people’s freedom of movement was quenched in the diamond mining areas after being displaced from their land, their only source of livelihood. Case in line, in a report by (Nicky Le Roux and Maggie Mapondera, 2018) when diamonds were discovered in Chiadzwa in 2006 the area became so restricted that it became terribly encumbering for agrarians to do their farming especially those in pastoralism, after the diamond exploration, the first thing the natives were told was that they were no longer free to move around. Which eventually led to massive evictions of the local inhabitants to pave way for diamond extractivism activities. The area was tightly guarded through heavy and brutal militarization by the Zimbabwean Security Forces. A boom gate to enter the town of Chiadzwa was erected. This is where public transport would stop and the officials, majority from the Zimbabwe Security Forces would perform the humiliating strip searches. Women would be searched in their mouths, ears, everywhere not sparing the genitals thus suffocating their privacy space. Research shows sometimes these security officers did not change their gloves. Using one pair-of-gloves on many women to the point that some of them began to develop infections, experiencing problems with their reproductive systems, fibroids and other growths.

Despite of all this pain of distress few people have gained from the diamond mining, it’s mainly the crooked government officials and military personnel who have siphoned the gains of diamond activities through sham deals and bloody unscrupulous syndicate mining, predominantly done by officers from the Security forces.

Community based oganizations such The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) have stomped to the grounded and fronted themselves to promote accountability and transparency in the extraction of diamonds. Through mobilization of efforts to stop the violation of women’s bodies and rights through dehumanizing body searches, advocate for their land rights because land is their major source of livelihood. This is being done through opposing unjust relocation policies though this has faced a backlash and intimidation through threats from the local officials. Further the CCDT has assisted in organizing community trainings to enable women be in the-know of their personal freedoms through awareness-raising activities and litigation through helping women who have lost their husbands through state security agencies’ murders or disappearances. And
providing psychological therapy counseling to the victims of trauma of the recent shocking bloody Marange diamond fields’ massacres that claimed hundreds of people with majority being men. Nonetheless, in-spite of all the activists’ actions, a huge void in equal  distribution of resource benefits still thrive in Zimbabwe with the largest diamond earnings being accrued to the biggest untouchable sharks in the government.

Gabon

This paper continue to explore the gaps and issues underlying management and exploration of natural resources through natural resource governance, and approaches to extractivism, and its dangers on the Africa’s ecosystem and health threats.

Gabon is facing severe health and ecological consequences due to the harm radioactive materials left uncleared from the environment from 40years of uranium mining in the southern part of  Gabon even after the closure of the renown French mining giant, Areva in 1999 at the town of Mounana. The topmost anxieties around Mounana and other uranium mining sites, approximately 600 kilometres from Gabon’s capital Libreville, have been pointed to the discarding of unwanted radioactive waste into aquatic and water sources. This increased the exposure risk to the residents, located 500 metres away from the mining sites, and work-related hazards inform of illnesses of previous employees at the mines.

Gabon and Niger an additional Areva uranium mining site, circulated in 2010 reports, stating the significant health complications that occurred due to the carelessness in the mining operations. The health protection of miners and local citizenry was not put into consideration (Burnett, 2013). The report further say there was a deficiency in data availability on the far-previous and present stages of radioactivity and that information evidence was not coming forth from the Areva Company. The point of focus has been on the housing development of 200 houses that were constructed using collections of emitted radiation and the complications that developed over time due to the constant exposure to radiation that is the lung cancers and high blood pressures in a report ((OSM), 2017), many serious diseases were detected among former employees, the company accepted the claims that it was aware of many of its former employees had developed serious ailments for example contagious tuberculosis. Specialists have acknowledged the fact that radiations from the nuclear exposure at work are one of the causes of cancer and respiratory diseases.

There have been ongoing projects to demolish and rebuild these houses built through use of discharged radiations after the mine was closed. Workers further formed an NGO and advocated for promotion of health and ecofriendly monitoring program as well as medical recompense and establish a health observatory in the area to treat former miners.

Despite of all the above aforementioned adverse effects associated with the uranium extractivism activities on the local people and the biodiversity, the Gabonese government in 2010 was reported to have entered into another agreement with the Areva mining company for the exploration and possible extraction of further uranium reserves.

In the same wavelength of the above, we are proposing the following remedies

Formulate and strengthen regulatory policies concerning extractivism, This provides space for checks and balances in the extractivism sectors because most of the companies are self-regulating due to the fact that the Africa’s environmental management authorities are inadequately staffed and funded, and lack political authority to sufficiently penalize the ecology destroyers. Therefore such regulatory policies help to guide the oil corporations to frequently conduct environmental impact assessment and treat the wastes like oil spills that may be a health hazard to humanity and in long-run worsen the cancer nightmare to the populaces in the region.

Proper mapping and formulating well streamlined compensation policies. Most of the governments’ compensation policies in Africa are weak, impotent and thieving projects of government officials to accumulate wealth. Case in line, Uganda has a land Act but does not have a well aligned compensation policy. In many incidents this Act works in favor of the bourgeoisie class over the interests of peasants on the land, Section 6(5) (b) of the Land Act provides that, Where a person awarded compensation under this Section refuses to accept payment, the High Court on the application of the Attorney General may order payment to be made into court on such conditions as it thinks appropriate. Most of the times the compensation awarded is inadequate and this becomes a financial and a heavy wealth loss to the victims.

Further, the land and property valuers that can assist in Africa, majority are government employees and the Laws in most of countries do not provide for private valuers. Most government valuers are easily bribed and manipulated by the rich and experts from the corporations to authenticate the unscrupulous results.  The outcomes are land evections that are often disastrous especially in the wave-length of health. Most of the times, evictions involve resettlement of the victims in distant and remote free lands secured by the governments which are far away from the health centres. Which limits people’s access to healthcare especially pregnant women in need of maternal health services due to the distance and the HIV/AIDs patients who consistently need to visit the health centres to get health advisory services in regards to their CD4 counts and access to medicines like antire-retrovirals.

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