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sharing in governance of extractive industries

Development of a National Resettlement Framework for the Guinean Government for Conflict Mitigation

As mining, energy, infrastructure and agricultural projects expand, they slowly encroach upon existing communities. Due to this, we increasingly hear the terms ‘involuntary displacement’ and ‘resettlement’ being used during project development. These terms are often associated with serious implications for both the affected people and companies creating the impact. It is for this reason the Government of Guinea has initiated a process to develop a national Resettlement Framework. A team of international experts led by SRK Consulting supports the process, accompanied by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and funded by the German Development Cooperation.

The rapid expansion of various industries, in particular Bauxite mining, in the West African country of Guinea has led to an increase in resettlement projects. However, without suitable legislation and/or a clearly defined and enforced management approach, resettlement is conducted in an ad hoc fashion, often with unsustainable outcomes for the affected people.

The current practice poses significant risks of violation of fundamental human rights, such as land and community rights, food security, and the protection of the environment and living conditions of the affected population. This situation is of particular concern in the context of mining where the principle of equitable sharing of subsoil resources is captured in national and international policies and standards. In Kintinan, Siguiri province, for example, communities have been mostly sidelined in negotiations ahead of the extension of the SAG gold mine. At the same time, the evaluation of communities’ inventories of possessions and land happened in the presence of the military - a breach of international obligations under the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

In the absence of national standards, the situation on the ground is often chaotic. In the Bauxite Region of Boké in Lower Guinea, for example, the boom of bauxite projects causes significant and often overlapping impact on neighboring communities. Differing standards between different projects cause conflicts between affected communities and companies. Many questions remain unresolved even for companies that are trying to adhere to international best practice. Until today hardly any of the projects compensate affected farmers in-kind or with agricultural land but rather with cash, potentially leading to the increasing impoverishment of an entire region until now very much dependent on subsistence agriculture. In addition, the women’s activist Nentebou Barry notes that “women are often marginalized in resettlement processes and excluded from compensation which goes to the male head of the household. This is not good practice in a patriarchal society such as Guinea”.

Many of these issues are highlighted in the study “Etude sur les normes et pratiques d’expropriation, d’indemnisation, de délocalisation et de réinstallation des communautés affectées par les Projets miniers dans la région bauxitique de Guinée” by the international consultancy INSUCO. The study was published in 2018 together with the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Environment, GIZ, and with the help of civil society organizations including Action Mines, Même Droits pour Tous, Association Mines Sans Pauvrété and RENASCEDD, and financed by the German Development Cooperation (see Picture by Judith Kunert/GIZ: Presentation of the study by INSUCO at the Ministry of Mines).

Having recognised this situation, and following external scrutiny from organisations such as Human Rights Watch, the Government of Guinea initiated a process to develop a national Resettlement Framework. The development of the national framework document was formally launched in December 2018 during a multi-stakeholder workshop held in the capital city, Conakry. Stakeholders from government, civil society, the private sector, and international partner organizations were all present at the launch event. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Mines of Guinea, Saadou Nimaga, expressed his hopes that “the development of a national guidance document is fundamental to the overall sustainable management of ongoing involuntary resettlement across the country”.

The primary purpose of project is to define a common approach to the management of involuntary displacement, in line with Good International Industry Practice. Through this process, the Government of Guinea will have a legally binding reference document establishing the requirements, norms and procedures for the management of involuntary displacement, for public and private projects across the country.

This is a novel, innovative and ambitious project. With this process, Guinea has the opportunity to pave the road for other countries in the region to follow. However, many challenges lie ahead. Different stakeholders have different views on issues such as customary land tenure and compensation principles. At the same time, the pressure is high. Conflicts in mining zones are frequent and easily turn violent, while resettlement and compensation issues are often at the heart of those conflicts. Andrew Hart, resettlement specialist, from SRK confirmed: “This project is an excellent example of how resettlement is increasingly on the radar of national governments, human rights organisations and the private sector. The development of a multi-sectoral framework is a ground-breaking achievement for Guinea and will hopefully go a long way to regulating future resettlement, and guiding it towards a more sustainable and developmental outcome.

For more information, please contact Alpha Diallo from GIZ (mamadou.diallo@giz.de) or Andrew Hart from SRK Consulting (AHart@srk.co.za).

Find out more about the GIZ Regional Resource Governance Programme in West Africa here.

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