The DRC has a long history of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). We have been active in the DRC since 2007 and from the outset have recognised the hazards of ASM. Since 2007, our Katanga mine has specifically targeted artisanal miners and their families with programmes designed to generate regular, robust alternative incomes. These have included a crop cultivation project that worked with community leaders, an agriculture and livestock programme, and a reforestation and fi sh farming initiative. Since 2008, we have contributed $350,000 per year to assist with small-scale cultivation of maize, as part of the regional
government’s food security initiative.
We have also established a strong community programme that supports local co-operatives with basic equipment, seeds and fertilisers. The programme operates in 9 communities, working with 25 associations, which represent 2,182 members. We are encouraging them to transition from subsistence agriculture to trading.
Many of the co-operatives and some of our local suppliers are women-only associations. Their empowerment has increased their ability to be active in their communities through supporting orphanages and young mothers, and educating other women about the risks of ASM.
The broad range of seeds that we donate has enabled associations to experiment with different vegetables, fruit and livestock, bringing nutritional diversification, increasing the variety of goods for sale and reducing the risk of over-supply. Crops appropriate to the season and water resources include maize, soya, beans, onions, tomatoes, salads, spinach, aubergines, cabbage and carrots. Some also grow fruit trees, almonds, peanuts and aromatic herbs.
We have actively encouraged the ownership of projects by our local partners. Through open discussions and participation, they are taking on responsibility for activities such as fencing, construction of hen houses and equipment maintenance. We also provide training programmes on agriculture and livestock, and business management. Our community development officers are helping co-operatives to open bank accounts, draft their statutes and form committees, helping them to create stronger governance structures.
The mining companies operating in the region regularly meet to share their experiences of community development programmes and define guidelines and best strategies for sustainable development.