Politics of mining reforms and poverty : informal mining suspension and its impacts on rural livelihoods in the Twangiza mining area, Eastern DRC.
Makanishe, Bisimwa Timothee.
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Informal mining requires particular attention in the fight against poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, more than ten millions of people have depended on it for livelihoods. The aim of this study was to investigate the causes and impacts of the suspension of informal mining in the eastern DRC, between 2010 and 2011, on rural livelihoods in Twangiza. The study being a qualitative case study, both primary and secondary data were collected through semi-structured interviews with a total of 21 respondents and analyzed using thematic methods. This study has found that geopolitical influences upon the DRC government‟s concerns over fraud, corruption, loss of state revenues and the perpetuation of conflicts associated with informal mining activities were the main causes of its suspension in the eastern DRC. In Twangiza however, although informal mining was still practiced until 2010 when it was suspended across the eastern DRC, it had already been illegalized since 2003, following the introduction of BANRO - a Canadian based multinational company – to mine in the area. This happened shortly after DRC‟s adoption of a predominantly neo-liberal driven Mining Code in 2001. This study has also found that the suspension of informal mining worsened the already venerable rural livelihoods in Twangiza as it resulted in increased unemployment, loss of income and food as well school dropouts by both pupils and teachers. To cope with these impacts many people decided to liquidate their assets, including livestock and land. While some of them managed to reemploy themselves by reinvesting in small businesses or migrating outside the community to search jobs, the most vulnerable had no option but to stay at home, resort to theft or prostitution. This study, therefore stresses the livelihood importance of informal mining in Twangiza, which is consistent with previous studies on informal mining and livelihoods among poor communities in developing countries, especially in Africa. It also questions the consistency of DRC‟s mining policy and provides some constructive recommendations on how mining should be used to promote sustainable development in the eastern DRC.