Saturday, September 30, 2023

Women, youth being sidelined in lithium extraction

Beverly Bizeki

Women and youths said that they are being sidelined in the extraction of lithium in the their respective communities, a development which see these marginalised groups continue to wallop in poverty.
This emerged during a training workshop organised by Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust in partnership with Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) On how communities can make use of how communities can make use of smart energy.
Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust in partnership with SARW have since embarked on a training initiative to raise awareness on energy transition among women and youth.
In Masvingo, the training workshop was held at Ancient City lodge in Masvingo on July 26, 2023 was attended by youth and women from some of the lithium hotspots in Zimbabwe like Goromonzi, Bikita and Mutoko where it emerged that the two groups were not benefiting.
Green Governance Director Frank Mpahlo said the workshop meant to equip women and youth around energy transition agenda in the country.
“The workshop is aimed at equipping young people with knowledge and information around the energy transition happening globally and also locally, in Zimbabwe we have the largest deposit of lithium in Africa and the 5th in the world.
“It is therefore important for young people to understand that for the purposes of influencing policy formulation as we do not have a policy around lithium management in Zimbabwe so we want young people to come and understand what it means for Zimbabwe to have lithium and what it takes for there to be a policy framework which regulates mining,” said Mpahlo.
Mpahlo said issues raised in lithium mining communities by women and youth include community beneficiation, labour rights and environmental rehabilitation.
“Communities are saying lets avoid a reoccurrence of the previous gold rush incidences where communities did not benefit much and push for beneficiation.
“The other issue is on pollution and environmental degradation, the discussion is what plans are put in place by government to ensure we don’t further cause environmental degradation because lithium exploration is quite heavy and it leads to so much land degradation.
“There is also a labour rights issue, we have heard so many reports around the abuse of workers in lithium mining companies so the question is on how we can put in place policies that protects the workers’ rights,”
“There are also questions on the place of women and youths in terms of lithium mining and production, there is a feeling they are being left out in terms of beneficiation and involvement within revenue generation and utilization,” said Mpahlo.
SARW’s programs’ manager Darlington Muyambwa said the organizations were conducting workshops to inform policies that are responsive to women and youth.
“We have been doing this to ensure that we inform people on policies that are responsive to these groups (women and youth) and respect the rights of these groups and to ensure that the energy transition means something to them,”
“We have trained them on what community monitoring is with the intention that they go back and do the same on how these issues are affecting their communities and they will tell us about challenges and new developments” said Muyambwa.
Muyambwa also said the organization’s hope was to expand and look at other groups that are marginalized in the communities like people with disabilities to facilitate for adequate and meaningful inclusion.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Ministry of Youth Sport Arts and Recreation officials attended the event among others.

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