No less than 200,000 miners across Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania are the target of the language barrier-bridging Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform rolled out by Solidaridad, an international civil society organization.
The IVR, already deployed with great success in agricultural extension support for farmers and communities in cocoa, oil palm and other food staples production, will ensure artisanal and small-scale miners who do not speak English are no longer excluded from the many interventions developed and deployed to enhance their wellbeing and productivity as a result of language barrier.
According to Yaw Britwum Opoku, Gold Programme Manager at Solidaridad, the timeline for achieving that feat is no further than 2023, by which date the targeted small-scale miners would have adopted best mining practices to improve on health, safety, environmental and business practices.
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), being largely an informal sector with limited access to information on responsible mining practices and sustainable production, particularly in Ghana where operations are in remote areas, deployment of interventions to improve the sector has always been challenging. It is even more so when the interventions are in English, whereas most of the miners are not literate.
To close this gap, Solidaridad, through its gold programme which seeks to promote responsible and sustainable small-scale mining in Ghana and elsewhere, has developed the IVR platform to educate artisanal and small-scale gold miners on responsible mining practices.
The IVR platform is compatible with android phones and allows the target audience to receive pre-recorded messages in real time without the need for face-to-face contact, a statement by Solidaridad said.
How the IVR works
Miners receive phone calls to assist them to do an evaluation of their practices in a local dialect – Twi – spoken in many of the beneficiary communities.
They also receive practical guidelines on responsible mining practices, such as safe working conditions, responsible use of mercury and environmental management.
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“All the guidelines are in line with the Fairmined Standard, which is a set of requirements for artisanal and small-scale mining to perform responsible mining. They also meet the Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale miners engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT Code), which helps miners to assess critical social and environmental risks—such as child labour, illicit trade, and uncontrolled use of chemicals and develop action plans to address them”, the statement explained.
So far, Solidaridad’s gold programme has used the IVR platform to engage over 1,000 miners in Ghana.
“The target is to use the platform to educate over 200,000 miners in Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire by 2023 to adopt best mining practices to improve on health, safety, environmental and business practices of small-scale miners,” says Yaw Britwum Opoku, who added that the platform is also aimed at upscaling the activities of the gold programme to reach a lot of miners nationwide and in some parts of Africa.
“The IVR platform has helped in improving our work as miners. Through the messages we receive, we have been able to put in place stringent safety measures to protect our workers,” says Philip Baidoo, health and safety manager, Beava Mining Enterprise, Nkatieso.
Aside from using the IVR platform to educate miners on responsible mining practices, Solidaridad has also used it to sensitize miners on the COVID-19 pandemic.