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Africa: Solidaridad urges govts. & mining companies to take measures to protect workers & artisanal miners due to their increased vulnerability to Covid -19 pandemic

"Preventing COVID-19 in ASM communities"

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities face both increased risk and greater prevention challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments and companies must step up to protect workers. The artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in Africa has been disproportionately affected by infectious diseases such as TB, Cholera, and HIV/AIDS. The recent emergence of COVID-19 compounds these health challenges, creating a grave situation for miners. Artisanal small-scale miners tend to be nomadic and follow gold rushes in remote areas. They create communities where basic systems like sewerage, water, access to schools and health facilities are not available. In addition to cutting down trees for shelter and a source of energy, they end up using the bush as toilets. Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevention campaigns on hygiene, washing of hands with soap or sanitizers and social distancing may not be reaching mining communities...

ith large scale mines, surrounding communities often play host to mine workers seeking to be close to work. Therefore, any services catering to these communities must be expanded to take into account the increased population. Those seeking to provide services and information must do so with an understanding of the context. There are often challenges such as low network connectivity, underdeveloped schools, inadequate health or sanitation facilities, poor road networks, and very low incomes...

Governments must recognise and put in place COVID-19 and other legislation that acknowledges artisanal and small-scale miners. This would enable councils and community development agents to budget for development in these communities, and better respond to challenges such as the current pandemic. Large scale mines must also be held to their contract and social responsibility commitment of developing the communities they are mining from. 

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