People in Liberia’s Bea Mountain concession still don’t know their rights under a 2001 agreement to improve living standards for communities affected by mining activity, a new survey from Citizens Helpdesks found.
The survey results underscore the challenge of enforcing so-called Mineral Development Agreements (MDAs), which establish services and payments owed to the community by the mining company and the government in exchange for the use of local natural resources.
With help from the German Development Corporation, Accountability Lab Liberia has recruited and trained five Community Frontline Associates (CFAs) and one Local Mobile Journalist to inform citizens of their rights and facilitate dialogue among stakeholders. To that end, they are surveying the population to gauge awareness of the MDA and satisfaction with the mining company’s efforts.
Despite the CFAs’ headway in the community, more work needs to be done to educate people about the MDA. Here are the key takeaways from the report:
- Thanks to a large influx of newcomers to the area, only a quarter of people had heard of the agreement, down from 54% three months prior
- Two-thirds of people say they can’t access good healthcare and their children don’t get a quality education
- Only about a third of respondents were satisfied with the mining company’s efforts, though that improved from 20% three months ago
- The CFAs are now a prime source of information about the MDA, and majorities of respondents say they have had contact with a CFA and have been helped by one
The plan now is to share this report broadly with decision makers in the community, Liberian donors and government officials. We will also disseminate the findings to citizens through short infographics and bulletins, radio DJs, town hall meetings, and continued person-to-person engagement. Our goal: to support local communities in understanding their rights and pushing for change they want to see.