CENTRE for Trade Policy and Development policy lead on extractives Natalie Kaunda says measures should be in place to ensure children are safeguarded from the negative effects of mining activity.
Kaunda noted with regret the engagement of children in illegal mining activities in Chingola on the Copperbelt.
This follows a video making rounds on social media.
She said this was a depiction of the gross illegality and poor oversight within the mining sector, especially artisanal and small scale mining, a trend that should be avoided at all cost.
Kaunda said child safety and protection in the extractives sector should be of paramount importance by both the law enforcers and players in the mining sector.
She said measures should be in place to ensure children were safeguarded from the negative effects of mining activity or their active participation in it.
“CTPD agrees with calls from the Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Hon Richard Musukwa for an inspection visit on the Copperbelt Province as well as bringing the culprits using children to book. The recent occurrence serves as a reminder around the need to ensure that mining areas, small scale and large, are properly secured and monitored at all times to avoid abuse of children, or indeed the death of juveniles,” Kaunda said.
“After the incident of juveniles who were buried alive in a manganese mine in Samfya district in January of 2019, there is less that has been done in terms of providing effective controls and oversight to deter illegal miners from accessing mine sites, and this has made it easier for children to access these dangerous sites.”
Kaunda urged the government to step up efforts in fighting poverty and youth unemployment as these were some of the push factors driving the rise in illicit and informal mining activities.
“According to a recent report by the CSO, as of the year 2017 alone, the percentage of unemployed population in rural areas was 38.6 per cent and 61.4 per cent in urban areas. This is against a total number of 8,592 students that graduated from seven selected institutions of higher education in the year 2016,” said Kaunda.