Remarks at handover of the Personal Protective Equipment (MME) for Small-Scale Miners in Erongo Region by Dr Armstrong Alexis

January 28, 2021

--- Some of the Small scale miners in their PPE ---

Remarks by

Dr Armstrong Alexis
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative

At the Handover of the Personal Protective Equipment (MME) for Small-Scale Miners in Erongo Region

Venue: Tubussis, Erongo Region
28 January 2021

Director of the Department of Mines, Mrs. Isabella Chirchir;
The Acting Deputy Director of the Small-scale Mining Division, Mrs. Minsozi Sibeso;
The training consultants: Mr Nerson Tjelos and Mrs Mary Barton;
The small-scale miners attending this training;
Other representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy;
Fellow UNDP colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good Afternoon!
• It is my distinguished honour to deliver these remarks on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Namibia, at this very important event, the training of small-scale miners on environmental, health and safety, which has coincided with the handover of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

• First of all, I would like to give you a brief introduction on UNDP, as to what it is all about. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a global programme that is supporting countries around the world to achieve their development goals, in the following areas: 1) poverty reduction, 2) environmental protection, and 3) social development.

• UNDP plays a big role in the national efforts to ensure sustainable development. By saying sustainable development I mean, the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

• In addition, UNDP is contributing to the achievement of Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP 5). This is Namibia’s fifth plan to achieve Namibia’s long term vision for development, referred to as “Vision 2030”. I hope some of you have heard about it before.

• One of the targets under the Fifth National Development Plan is to make sure that the environment is well protected, and that fits in well with the role of UNDP.

Ladies and gentlemen,
• You may have not been aware that mining activities have potential impacts on the environment. However, this is a very important aspect that all small-scale miners should be aware of when carrying out the mining activities. The impacts of mining activities in the environment include: generation of dust (air pollution), damage to the environment (land degradation); littering (making the environment dirty), destruction of the living areas for animals (animal habitats) and destruction of plants. These are some of the things that one may not notice immediately, especially considering the fact that all what the small-scale miners have in mind is the generation of income and the reduction of poverty.

• It is therefore very important that small-scale miners become aware that: “The way to make money for the living, can also cause destruction to the environment”.

• Due to the fact that mining activities can cause damage to the environment, it has become compulsory for the small-scale miners to have Environmental Management Plans in place, to make sure that their activities can have limited or no impacts on the environment. This is a requirement of the law on the management of the environment, known as the “Environmental Management Act”, which includes a point that all the activities that have a potential to have an impact on the environment can only be carried out after Environmental Impact Assessments are conducted, after which Environmental Management Plans should be developed and be implemented. Such activities include small-scale mining.

• Sadly, many small-scale miners have been contravening the Environmental Management Act. Environmental Management Plans are important for the fact that they help small-scale miners to be aware of the potential impacts of the mining activities, and to be able to address them.

• Given the fact that conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment is expensive, it was realised that the small-scale miners need to be assisted financially to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments, and to develop their Environmental Management Plans.

• We also learned that the small-scale mining are at risk of health hazards, as they are currently operating without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

• In addition, the Ministry of Mines and Energy brought to our attention the need to develop Health and Safety Guidelines for small-scale miners, to make sure that they operate in safe environments. Furthermore, the Ministry of Mines and Energy pointed out to UNDP that the small-scale miners need to be trained on the environmental, health and safety issues so that they will be able to implement Environmental Management Plans, and to know how to operate in healthy and safe environments.

• After realising the challenges being faced by the small-scale miners, UNDP in joint efforts with the Ministry of Mines and Energy submitted a plan for the activities that need to be financially supported, to the Environmental Governance Programme for Improved Natural Resource Management. This is a programme that plays a role in environmental protection in the mining sector. It supports small-scale mining activities in other African countries. In May 2020, the Environmental Governance Programme made some money (funds) available to support the small-scale mining activities in Namibia. The target for the available funds are specifically for four small-scale mining hotspots, namely: Otjimbojo, Omapyu, Tubussis and Xoboxobos.

• It is therefore for this reason that Environmental Scoping Assessments for the four areas have been conducted, and that Environmental Management Plans are being developed. It is the same reason that the Ministry of Mines and Energy in partnership with UNDP were able to buy personal protective equipment for the small-scale miners, which are being officially handed over today. And it is the reason why the small-scale miners are being trained today on the environmental, health and safety issues.

• We are sincerely hoping that the small-scale miners will be able to make good use of the Personal Protective Equipment that are being handed over today, and that after this training, they will have a better understanding of the importance of the Environmental Management Plans and implement them afterwards. We are also hoping that the small-scale miners will be in the best position to implement the Health and Safety Guidelines, after which they will be operating in healthy environments.

Thank you!