More than 80,000 people, including illegal miners, have gained direct and indirect jobs under the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) since its rollout a year ago.
Of the beneficiaries mainly from mining communities, 16,920 were engaged in Akotom in Western Region; 27,280, Adinkra in Ashanti; 16,002, Techire in Ahafo; 18,869, Akwatiakwaso in Eastern and 500 in Fufuo, Ashanti.
The remaining 500 were employed at Hohoe in the Volta Region as an intervention for residents of the region and Oti who were found to have moved to the mining areas to work.
The NAELP Coordinator, Dr Louise Carol Serwaa Donkor told the Ghanaian Times on Friday, that they worked at five main seedling sites and a satellite site at Hohoe to raise 20 million seedlings to support massive reafforestation efforts anchored on the 2022 Green Ghana tree planting exercise.
She said permanent staff members were about 400; casual workers, 1,199 while the rest were food /water suppliers, drivers, labourers, machine operators, seed suppliers/loaders/off loaders/planters and others in charge of soil.
She disclosed this in an interview on the progress of work under the programme and the impact being made in the alternative livelihood agenda in the mining sector ahead of its first anniversary in a couple of weeks.
Launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on October 25, last year, the NAELP, aims to provide alternative employment and livelihood to illegal miners(galamaseyers), potential ‘galamaseyers’ and related workers in the industry impacted by the government’s clampdown of illegal mining.
It also seeks to reclaim degraded lands in mining communities to restore the country’s water bodies, enhance livelihoods as well as ensure responsible small-scale mining, with the five focus regions Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Western North and Western.
Under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the programme is hinged on six modules including Agriculture and Agro-processing; Land Reclamation and Re-Afforestation and Mine Support Services.
The others are Responsible, Viable and Sustainable Small Scale Mining, Apprenticeship, Skills Training and Entrepreneurship and Community enhancement Projects.
Apart from small scale miners other targeted beneficiaries are their small scale mining sponsors, fuel suppliers, hoteliers, metal fabricators, transport operators, food caterers, traders and farmers.
Dr Donkor said the jobs created meant a lot to the miners and to the government because many of the beneficiaries were displaced as a result of the sanitation of the mining industry, to wit, anti-illegal mining operation by the government.
“So it was important for the government to come up with how to integrate them better through employment opportunities,” she said.
Dr Donkor said the permanent workers were paid G¢ 700 after tax deductions; their social security was paid in addition to breakfast and lunch and other end of year benefits.
“The main thing is to target areas where there is mining, where galamsey is endemic because we want to be able to use them as labour. In those communities if you keep them (idle) they will keep doing the things we don’t want them doing. So we went through the chiefs to engage them,” she said.
She explained that at the moment, pending the next funding stage, the programme is yet to nurse the next set of seedlings to keep the people continuously engaged for another massive reafforestation drive to restore the country’s forest cover.
“Ghana has lost 1.41 million hectares of tree cover from 2001 to 2021 equivalent to a 20 per cent decrease in forest cover and it is for our sustenance on earth to reforest,” she said.
Apart from the job creation, DrDonkor said the programme was reclaiming 1,000 hectares of degraded lands BibianiAnwiaso and BekwaiJuaboso of Western North; BosomeFreho District in Ashanti and Abuakwa South and Atiwa West of Eastern.
“Under the Land Reclamation and Re-Afforestation module, we are working on the degraded land, bringing them to the right chemical balance for vegetation again, extracting all the harmful chemicals and redirecting streams from polluted areas,” she said.
Under the other modules, Dr Donkor said, artisanal and Small-Scale Miners will soon be receiving capacity building and skills enhancement training for sustainable and responsible mining.
She said the mining related skills development training modules would be rolled out along with large scale miners for a more efficient and widespread impact.
“The government is not against mining, but it is against the illegal and unsustainable ways of mining which compromise the environment,” she said and called for support for the programme.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR