To help address significant challenges which often arise as a result of industrial gold mining, the American Bar Association (ABA ROLI) — with the support of the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation — works to increase access to justice and empower local communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of Africa’s most mineral-rich countries.
Members of the community forum in Kaziba work together to adopt an action plan focusing on protecting their land rights
Through networks of community-based paralegals, a legal aid clinic and community-led forums, ABA ROLI is supporting communities to engage with local authorities, pursue remedies for human rights violations and actively participate in decision-making processes affecting their livelihoods.
By working closely with three local communities in South Kivu, ABA ROLI established local platforms “forums communautaires” where individuals representing different groups, including women and youth, continue to collectively discuss and adopt concrete actions to reduce or prevent the negative impact of industrial mining. In December 2016, ABA ROLI organized trainings using its toolkit to facilitate the community-led forums in first identifying the priorities and then adopting an action plan tailored to address the concerns. Following these trainings, ABA ROLI also focused on advocacy strategies to help community forums implement their action plans.
For example, Kaziba community members have expressed concerns about their lands which are already being explored for future mining operations, identifying an urgent need to prevent future displacement or inadequate compensation in anticipation of the arrival of Canadian mining company, BANRO. ABA ROLI is supporting the action plan in Kaziba which includes advocacy with local and provincial administrative authorities and mapping of community lands.
In Luhwindja, where BANRO already operates, community members addressed the lack of implementation of the existing community development agreement as their main concern. In response, a commission has recently been set up to review BANRO’s obligations arising out of the agreement and demand action.
In Burhinyi, BANRO has finished exploring the area and will begin operations soon. The community has voiced concerns about environmental pollution and is seeking to conduct an environmental impact assessment with ABA ROLI’s support.
By supporting locally-driven solutions such as community forums, ABA ROLI hopes to provide mining-affected communities with the tools and resources they need to effectively address the environmental and social impacts of industrial mining with a united voice.
To learn more about our work in DRC, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].