Effects of illegal gold panning on the community in Gwanda

Gold panning has been the worst enemy of the environment for a long time in Gwanda now it has been worsened by the persistent droughts that saw a lot of people going into panning as a source of employment. Young women are still finding it difficult to participate in the country’s mining sector due to a host of challenges, chief among them corruption, societal opinions on gender roles, legal and policy restrictions. Mining is associated with various social, economic and environmental impacts of which we see Gwanda young women finds it difficult to cope and survive. These social negative impacts associated with mining including violence, child labour, escalation of gender inequalities, health and environmental effects including deforestation and pollution.

By Zanele Nyathi

In Gwanda there is an upsurge in the rate of domestic violence, underage sex work and teenage pregnancy, limited voice in decision making, health risks from pollution in which we see fewer women look for work instead they have to take care of their relatives who have inhaled dust in mines and suffer health problems. Mining in Gwanda has also led to high cost of living where commodity prices are always high and young women are now failing to cope hence leading to heightened socio-economic vulnerability, increased prostitution and greater exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. Gold panners have no sense of budget thus negatively affecting female headed households exposing female headed houses to desperate means of coping and opting for sex trading exposing young women to pandemics such as HIV.

Sex trading is common in mining towns and Gwanda is now a hotspot. Gwanda mining town experiences high rates of violence, brutality and burglary due to Amabhambadzi and now young women’s security is at stake. Mining in Gwanda causes a great negative impact in the community in the sense that panning activities are mainly concentrated in rivers, disused mines and dams and this has threatened the water availability not for domestic use alone but for livestock and irrigation purposes.

There is also human-animal conflict which are associated with the mining activities affecting were animals live, drink. The farmers often find their fields, farms or grazing areas taken or mined by concessions or artisanal small-scale miners. Mining itself if uncontrolled it will lead to the destruction of the both physical and scientific environment as gases associated or used in mining carry a huge harm to the environment if used inappropriately. Mining activities will also lead to the destruction of key infrastructure in Gwanda.


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