Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has bemoaned the continued lack of diversity in the extractive industry saying the vice is retrogressive towards improving inequality in communities in the country.
CCJP National Coordinator Bornfaci Chibwana made the observation recently in Karonga on a sideline of a training that the faith based organization held with Community Journalists drawn from Traditional Authority Wasambo and Mwakaboko respectively.
According to Chibwana the extractive industries are a male-dominated sector where a majority of projects are enjoyed primarily by men yet it is women and persons with disabilities among others who bear a disproportionate share of the negative social, economic and environmental impacts.
Adding, if inequality is to be improved in communities all groups of people must be equally represented because this is key to achieving this objective as a nation.
“Women are often linchpin of their communities, with key roles in ensuring the health, nutrition, education, security of those around them therefore investing in vulnerable groups and ensuring their participation is not only key for their own development but also for the social economic development of their families and communities.” He explained.
Chibwana has therefore called upon better policies and regulatory frameworks which will aim at ensuring equal representation and access across the sector hence achieving inclusivity in development.
Speaking in a separate interview Project Officer for Fighting Inequality for CCJP, Tuntufye Simwimba said local communities are often victims of negative effects of mining as they tend not to benefit from the extractive minerals that are happening in their localities hence the importance of community journalists.
He said: “Community journalists are people that are based in the communities therefore they understand their problems more than anyone from the outside and because of this they are in a better position to speak of their problems instead of looking at people from the outside to speak on their challenges.
“In that way they become their own advocates and activists hence the orientation on the Mining and Minerals Act and Environmental Management Act among others.”
One of the participant to the orientation Joseph Mweba, said the knowledge that they have gained on laws governing extractives is invaluable saying they are now better placed to advocate the rights of communities.
With financial support from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Danish Church Aid,(DCA) CCJP is implementing the 5 year Enhancing Social Accountability In Local Governance To Reduce Inequality For An Inclusive Malawi Project in TA Wasambo and TA Mwakaboko in the district.