LIBERIA: In Affected Mining Communities CSI promotes Accountable Governance and Peaceful Coexistence

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Civics and Service International (CSI) has embarked again on another audacious project aimed at helping Liberians to maintain peace, tranquility in their communities and hold duty-bearers accountable.
CSI is highly known for promoting civic education, good governance, and respect for human rights across Liberia. In an effort to promote community based monitoring, peaceful coexistence, and respect for human rights, CSI is educating citizens about the Huiren Mining Company’s MoU, conducting surveys, water quality test, and multi-stakeholder dialogues in mining communities affected by Huiren’s operations in Jorquelleh District, Bong County. This will help citizens and policymakers to make informed decisions that are cardinal to the transformation of Liberia.
Mr. Otis S. Bundor, Country Director, CSI, told this newspaper that his organization is working with stakeholders in Jorpulo Clan, Jorquelleh District, Bong County to promote accountable governance and peaceful coexistence between locals and the mining company, which has concession in that part of Liberia. At a one-day multi-stakeholder dialogue held in Gbarmue Town to present CSI’s first survey findings, Mr. Bundor further stated that CSI has worked to simplify, to the understanding of the locals, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company and the locals.
He further stated that a CSI team, which recently visited the clan, also provided education to the residents of the four affected communities— Jackson Village, Gbarmue Town, Kpai Town and Banamah Town — about their rights and responsibilities, conduct of a water quality tests, established conflict mechanism platforms, etc. “Today marks a very important day in Jorpulu Clan because we have brought the MoU that 95 percent of you didn’t know about its existence and our research findings about the situation of Huiren Mining Company’s operation in your community. We are going to submit a detailed report of our findings to you, the county legislative caucus, commissioners, relevant line ministries, and civil society organizations,” he said.
The CSI Country Director further stated that in 2023, they engaged stakeholders and affected mining communities of Huiren Mining Company to inform them about the project – Enhancing Citizens Capacity and Promoting Accountable Governance in Mining Communities. This prepared the CSI team to conduct its first micro-perception baseline survey. During this baseline survey, 530 respondents were interviewed out of the total population of approximately 10,000 inhabitants.
In their report, CSI said mining communities are prone to violence and Liberia is no exception. So, their project seeks to promote peaceful coexistence and the establishment of peace-building mechanism platforms while holding the company and other stakeholders accountable. While in the communities, CSI’s team gauged community dwellers with questions such as, “What are the types of conflicts/complaints the community has with the mining companies? Have there been solutions to these conflicts/complaints? Are you aware of any grievance mechanisms in place to solve your problem? Do you have any structure at the community level to solve your conflicts?” According to their findings, the three highest types of conflict are land at 34 percent, environmental pollution at 34 percent, and unpaid fees at 32 percent. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents said they have had no solution to these conflicts and most of them accused their local officials including their district representatives, Hon. J. Marvin Cole of refusing to listen to the citizens, but prioritized Huiren Mining Company. Ninety-six percent of the interviewees said there is no grievance mechanism and 99 percent said there is no structure at the community level to solve problems.
Trying to fully understand how it can help to keep the peace between the mining company and the affected communities, CSI asked questions such as, “How satisfied are you with the mining company effort? Do you or your relatives work for the mining company?” “The result shows that 93 percent (494 respondents) are very unhappy, 4 percent (19 respondents) are very happy while the remaining 3 percent (18 respondents) are not happy or unhappy. 95 percent of the respondents or their relatives do not work for Huiren Incorporated while five percent work with the company as contractors- miners, blasters, lab technicians, drillers, etc.”
CSI’s efforts come few weeks following a violent protest in another mining concessional area in the country. During the protest in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County on February 29, 2024, at least two protestors were shot and killed by state security. Dozen others were injured and aggrieved protesters destroyed facilities of Bea Mountain, the mining company operating in the county.
In addition to helping the locals and company to keep the peace in Bong County, CSI also obtained significant findings from their survey. Out of that 530 respondents from the four communities, a combined total of 67 percent between the age ranges of (18-28 & 29-39) are young people which is a direct reflection of Liberia’s 2022 population survey. Mr. Bundor also said that most of their respondents were females accounting for 60 percent.
The general occupation of nearly all of the inhabitants of Jorpulo Clan is farming, seconded by mining with Huiren Incorporated or artisanal mining. Other forms of employment are petit businesses, hunting and bike riding.
On the quality of life, Mr. Bundor said basic social amenities are lacking; and they found out that 98 percent of those they spoke with said they do not have good healthcare, while 95 percent mentioned not having good education, and 57 percent said they get water from open wells. However, 38 percent said from pumps, three percent drink ‘mineral’ (sachet) water, and two percent get their water from creeks. “Most of the respondents accounting for 43 percent feel the safety of the water is small, 29 percent feel the water is very unsafe, 23 percent feel it is safe, three percent feel it is very safe, and two percent are unsure about the water safety,” CSI said.
The findings also show that 94 percent has never heard about the MoU, 95 percent has no knowledge about provisions in the MoU and 95 percent are unaware about Huiren Mining Company license. Mr. Bundor commended the German Corporation and the European Union for supporting the project as it goes on to create change in affected mining communities.
This was manifested in the conference hall during the multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) organized by CSI. While reading the MoU, it was astonishing to most people including permanent citizens including Alice Kermue, Clan Chief and Mary Larteh, Paramount Chief.
Speaking at the MSD on April 15, 2024, Fahnseth Mulbah, Deputy Minister for Planning, Ministry of Mines and Energy instructed the Huiren to submit the meeting minutes, attendance, bank account title and number, and names of signatories to the account within three days. “The company is supposed to sit down with you to sign the MoU just like the way we are sitting down. But all these people in the area you are working say they don’t know about it. Who is this MoU for? According to the survey, 95 percent of the people say they don’t know about what is inside the MoU, ah! The thing the MoU saying five years before your sign new one, if that is true, when I get back to town I will tell the Minister you all will have to do a new one.”
He urged the locals to remain peaceful. He further told Huiren that he asked for the minutes because of he wants to be sure in whose name is the MoU in. “We want to see whether it is in the community name or individual name it is in.” He then thanked GIZ and CSI for the initiative. He added: “At least our people can understand what is happening here. So please let’s continue this dialogue.”
Representing GIZ, the German Corporation, Mr. Samuel Summerville commended the work of CSI and asked the affected communities to remain peaceful as CSI continues to champion change.

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