The Ministry of Land and Natural Resources has begun a sensitisation programme for residents of mining communities, with the aim to encourage them to stop illegal mining popularly called galamsey, and learn skills that will earn them a livelihood.

The initiative is the second phase of the livelihood support programme that the government rolled out last year which saw the distribution of more than 3 million oil palm seedlings to residents of areas that had been affected by the galamsey menace.

The current phase of the programme is targeted at supporting women and children who are the most affected by the impact of galamsey on their communities.

As part of the programme, women will be trained to acquire skills in tailoring, soap making and other apprenticeships and supported with resources to set up small-scale businesses to earn a living.

The initiative started in the Western, Western-north and Central regiins yesterday (October 21), with the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mining, Naana Eyiah, leading a team from the ministry for a sensitisation programme in those areas.

The one-week tour started from the Aowin municipality in the Western-North Region where the minister engaged the traditional authorities at Enchi and the local political leadership in the area on the state of galamsey in the area.

She also engaged the residents of Enchi and Bibiani, urging them to stay away from galamsey and take advantage of the livelihood support programmes and training initiatives the government had rolled out especially in mining communities.

The Minister interacted with scores of women, girls and children who were said to be involved in the galamsey business and educated them on the need to acquire skills that would earn them a livelihood.

The tour will take the Minister to other areas such as Bibiani, Awhiaso, Bekwai, Nkatieso, in the Bibiani-Awhiaso-Bekwai municipality in the Western-North Region; Diaso, Breman Brofoyeduru and Akwaboso in the Upper Denkyira West District Assembly in the Central Region.

Naana Eyiah said apart from government’s determination to scale up those initiatives to benefit all residents in mining areas, other skills training programmes such as soap making, bead making and other small-scale business modules would be made available to the people in mining areas.

She urged women and children, who are the most affected by the effects of galamsey, to stay away from the practice and embrace the training programmes.

The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the Aowin Municipal Assembly, Mr Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, described the initiative by the Lands ministry as timely given the fact that illegal mining was negatively affecting women and children in the area.

He called on the young girls in particular to stay away from prostitution that has taken over the place because of the activities of illegal miners.

The MCE also stressed the need for small-scale miners who had concessions in the area to do responsible mining.

He said 200 people has already been registered for the community mining programme which would begin in a shortwhile.

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