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Malawi: Initiative to help locals access information & engage mining companies on their operations

"Tonse Tipindule Project empowers mining communities in Malawi’s Mwanza, Phalombe”

In the past, rural communities in the districts of Mwanza and Phalombe were in the dark about mining activities that are taking place in their areas as they could just see strangers flying survey planes or conducting drilling works on their land. Now the eyes of these poor villagers are open thanks to the Tonse Tipindule Project, which the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) is implementing with financial support from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Tilitonse Fund. "We have established Community Action Groups, which besides advocating for transparency and accountability on mining projects, are able to engage the companies to push for community benefits through corporate social responsibility projects", says Coordinator for the Tonse Tipindule Project at EAM, Golden Mbaula...

He says before the EAM, NCA and Tilitonse Fund’s intervention, the issue of mineral deposits in Thambani was confusing to the community members because the government never conducted any awareness programmes in the area. "The government even failed to introduce the investor to the members of the community hence the people felt their rights to know what is going on in their area was being violated.  Now through the Community Action Groups (CAG), the people are now empowered to demand information on the exploration project from government", he says.

Mbaula, however, expresses concern over lack of information on mining issues at district level saying in the case of Mwanza even the District Commissioner does not have the required information because there is lack of communication between his office and the Department of Mines.Our experience in Thambani shows that it is necessary for Malawi to have mining officers at district level to facilitate free flow of information on mining issues to the community, he says.