Small-scale mining and livelihood dynamics in north-eastern Ghana: sustaining rural livelihoods in a changing environment
by Issaka Kanton Osumanu, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University for Development Studies, Wa, Ghana
The rural livelihood frameworks capture the complexities of subsistence farming and the prospects and challenges it present (DFID, 2003; Buechler, 2004; Scoones, 2009). These prospects and challenges are influenced by several factors, including: global or national level policies and regulations over which rural dwellers have no control (and may likely be unknown to them); local practices and institutions; and the opportunities available for households or individuals to diversify their livelihoods. So far, though, rural livelihoods debates in SSA have overlooked the emergence of ASM as an alternative livelihood of choice for many rural subsistence farmers.
This paper contributes to addressing this gap by examining the dynamics of rural livelihoods in north-eastern Ghana. Here the small-scale mining sector has remained largely informal. The paper investigates the dynamics of ASM including the factors driving its growth, how it impinges on non-mining as well as mining households, and what it means for the vulnerability and resilience of rural livelihoods in ASM communities. In doing so, the paper brings together analysis of the problems and opportunities presented by ASM and situates this phenomenon in the sustainable rural livelihood policy debate.