Africa Fellowship Awardees highlight important lessons learnt

28 July 2016

CSRM recently hosted a short course training on ‘Managing Corporate Community Relationships’. The course, supported by the Australian Government’s Australia Awards - Africa Fellowship included 15 awardees representing 9 African countries. The course was delivered in two phases. The initial phase, supported by in-country partners the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) was held in Accra, Ghana from 14th to 25th October, with field visits to the Western Gold fields in Ghana. The second phase saw awardees come to Brisbane for a period of 3 weeks from 25th November to 13th December. One of the main highlights for Awardees during this phase was a weeklong field trip to Central Queensland. This enabled participants to experience Australia’s mining industry first hand. We were very warmly welcomed by the Central Highlands Regional Council who organised many of our site visits and who taught participants about their community development approaches

The objective of the course was to provide awardees with knowledge and skills to understand and an opportunity to engage with, communities that are impacted by mining and related activities.

Mr. Bendu, a Senior Environment Officer representing the Government of Sierra Leone, said “The most important lesson we learned from the course was the importance of building a trust-based relationship with the community and ways by which the community can benefit from development packages related to resettlement. Mr. Anene, a Geologist representing the Government of Nigeria, said the field trips in both Australia and Ghana were very useful as they enabled the awardees to understand the differences in mining practises in different national contexts and learn about best practises. Mr Anene said the course taught him some important community issues, such as “the importance of bottom-up stakeholder participation and the need to gain social license early on in a project to ensure community ownership and prevent conflicts”.

CSRM’s Lynda Lawson, Manager of Training and Knowledge Transfer, was the course leader. Each awardee was assisted in developing a Work Plan on Return. The work plan enables awardees to identify a project they can undertake upon returning to their organisation. Participants were from Madagascar, Central African Republic, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Burundi and Mozambique.

A key challenge facing these professional are the issues of resettlement and ASM. These formed the focus of the 2 weeks in Ghana and the focus of all Work Plans on Return.

In line with this, we had the privilege of being received by the Galamsey chiefts of the Western Region and of working with resettled communities around the Volta River hydro dam.