Agriculture, health and education among key priorities
Communities neighbouring the US$2 billion Sentinel mine at Kalumbila have formed a ground-breaking advisory committee designed to improve relations with the mining giant on its doorstep.
Trident Foundation Advisory Committee, spearheaded by Senior Chief Musele Musokantanda III and other community leaders, aims to ensure that the voices of local people are heard and their priorities considered when matters of development are planned.
“This should not be taken as a mere formality but a committee that is above self-benefit and that will represent the people with a focus of bringing development to the Musele Chiefdom,” said Chief Musele.
The advisory committee comprises leaders from 17 villages across the Musele chiefdom in North-Western Province with the expectation of a “fresh start” to engage the mine on development in the area.
Community representatives on the advisory committee will now liaise with their counterparts at the Trident Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organisation established by First Quantum Minerals subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals to support sustainable development through partnerships with communities, government, civil society and other stakeholders.
Local residents were supported by the Extractive Industry Transparency Alliance (EITA), which was contracted to provide additional capacity to form the advisory committee along with village-level community development sub-committees.
EITA coordinator Mwiya Mwandawande helped develop the terms of reference for the committee and facilitated the consultative process with community development committees at the village level, to determine development priorities.
Agricultural livelihoods, health infrastructure, women and youth empowerment livelihood activities, education infrastructure and water infrastructure were the top development priorities across the villages in this initial phase of consultation.
In addition to identification of education and health infrastructure as a priority, the community leaders expressed the need for more trained staff and supplies at local schools and clinics.
Community leaders identified moulding of locally baked clay bricks, as well as provision of voluntary labour towards community infrastructure projects as some of the meaningful contributions they can make towards development.
After initial consultations with the advisory committee the Trident Foundation was invited to the first District Development Coordinating Committee meeting of the newly formed Kalumbila District.
Community priorities will be screened against the Trident Foundation principles, development framework and available resources, and carefully planned activities will be undertaken to address key areas.
“The Trident Foundation welcomes the community initiative to form this advisory committee. The move will enable further dialogue between the mine, the foundation and the communities in which it works and we are hopeful that this additional channel of communication will enable more meaningful, better targeted development,” said Trident Foundation manager Garth Lappeman.
“At Sentinel mine we are mindful of the importance of ensuring that all our activities adhere to global best practice and efficiency in terms of social, economic and environmental impact, and this has become an increasing focus in the context of currently low community prices and the harsher financial and operational environment,” he added.