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very interesting 'long read', nicely illustrated!

i took the liberty to list a few of what i feel are the most inspiring quotes - adding my own emphasis but (hopefully) not missing the point of the article.

INTRODUCTION "As most sapphires in Madagascar are mined artisanally, the number of informal and unsafe artisanal mines in the country has multiplied exponentially. Running on muscle power and the hope of leaving poverty behind, their environmental impact has been detrimental. Need and a lack of other employment opportunities have driven illegal and informal miners to exploit deposits in rainforest or protected areas.

While most of the individuals we met are not miners, their lives have been nonetheless deeply affected by artisanal gemstone mining. They have to deal with the environmental degradation of their local forests, with mines left abandoned in their villages, and with the sad reality that the wealth created in their region has not trickled down to the poorest."

A HOPEFUL MESSAGE: "...People want to do more reforesting. ... François has also set up a local enterprise to meet the increasing local appetite for trees and plants in former ASM areas. He runs a nursery in Bekily that produces around 10,000 plants each year. These are sold to schools, churches and farms across the Sakaraha region. The nursery also counts Madagascar National Parks among its clients. ... "Running a nursery can make money and provide a decent living"

=> this a great example on how local (and social) entrepreneurship can bring about positive change!

DIFFICULT ECONOMIC BENEFITS FROM MINING "a key barrier remains finding the right buyer. better and fairer markets are required..."

=> my idea is that the artisanal mining is not the 'solution', people due this in harsh conditions trying to survive (i would not say the 'easy&quick' money)

and allow me to copy paste the conclusion, highlighting some aspects:
"Artisanal sapphire sites in southern Madagascar operate unsafely and under very difficult conditions. And their impact on the environment and on communities is mostly detrimental. Yet these rural communities in Sakaraha have taken charge of the situation on their own terms. Some individuals have even managed to find new talents and vocations as foresters and jewellery designers.

They found new ways – locally made – to unlock the potential of ASM to drive sustainable development in their communities, whether by turning land rehabilitation into an opportunity to create a forest, learning new skills, or by exploring new interests, even if all of them have yet to reap financial benefits. Their experiences suggest new ways of thinking about how communities could benefit from mineral wealth in their countries, beyond the usual jargon of economic linkages, local content or corporate responsibility.
The economic potential of ASM is clear: artisanal mining of gemstones, gold and other minerals provides around half a million jobs in a country of about 25 million people. But harnessing this potential requires confronting a web of problems affecting the lives of many people beyond miners and their families.

In the dialogue process, GIZ started from the bottom up. They worked with miners and, crucially, with community associations, looking at the wider issues at the local level.

Pilot projects flourished, showing that a responsible attitude to artisanal mining can bring more to communities than income and employment. For some, turning a wrong, such as environmental degradation, into a right – reforested, safer areas – led to self-realisation and a more tranquil community life. For others, learning about gemstones and jewellery led to discovering their creative selves and to the dignity of knowing the worth of their labour.

While formalisation and regulation of ASM is essential, we must learn from local communities and what they think is best for them."