Socio-economic and environmental impact of mining on women in Kasigau mining zone in Taita Taveta County
Introduction:
Kenyas mining industry is dominated by non-metallic mineralsrnsuch as soda ash fluorspar kaolin and some gemstones. Thesernminerals represent a small percentage of the Gross DomesticrnProduct GoK 2015. Kenya has proven deposits of titanium goldrnand coal and is estimated to hold significant deposits of copperrnniobium manganese and rare earth minerals. The local share ofrnmining revenue helps to diversify and expand the economy OxfordrnBusiness Group 2014. However Kenya needs to attract investorsrnfrom the mining industry to boost economic development. Therncountry has enacted mining law which is envisioned to protect thernenvironment ensure compliance with regulations and standards inrnthe sector and lead to the equitable benefit sharing of proceedsrnfrom mining resources in order to improve the welfare of thernpeople living in mining areas GoK 2016. The constitution of Kenyarn2010 GoK 2010 declares that every person is entitled to a cleanrnand healthy environment and the current legal framework established a robust institutional framework to manage and protect thernenvironment and the welfare of each person. Sectoral growth hasrnbeen stunted by low levels of compliance with regulations andrnpolicies and this has decreased the socio-economic and environmental benefits of the sector in the country. There is little regard forrnimproved health and safety environmental sustainability and thernsocial wellbeing of workers. Abandoned mining sites and inadequate rehabilitation of the sites have consequently createdrndegraded physical environments with the potential for adverserneffects on the welfare of workers especially women.rnWomen are directly or indirectly engaged in mining activities inrnmany countries in the world despite the plethora of challengesrnfacing them in the sector Hinton Viega Beinhoft 2003. Miningrnis the weakest driver of development in the coastal regionrncontributing only 2 GoK 1999 to the economic developmentrnwith the main economic activities being tourism ports and shipping fisheries and agriculture. Various types of minerals are foundrnclose to the Kenyan coast some of which in significant economicrnquantities and only a few of these are being exploited GoK 2015.rnSalt coral rock titanium manganese barites gypsum iron ore andrngemstones are some of the extractive mineral deposits that exist inrneconomic quantities in the mineral ore belt of Taita Taveta Countyrnwith the potential to boost economic development Taita TavetarnCounty Government 2013. The mining industry in the county isrna significant driver of development as it contributes to the perrncapita income of the population through the creation of job opportunities and livelihoods as well as infrastructure development.rnThe industry creates a wealth of opportunities that the countysrngovernment can rely on for wealth creation and socio-economicrndevelopment The mining sector is dominated by artisanal and small scalernmines with 3e5 percent of women constituting the total miningrnworkforce in Taita Taveta County Taita Taveta County Governmentrn2013 Rop 2014 Anyona Rop 2015. Artisanal mining relies onrnphysical menial labour which can be too strenuous for manyrnwomen. The violation of the rights of women and environmentalrndegradation associated with mining activities create an unfavourable environment International Institute for Environment andrnDevelopment WBCSD 2003 for the active participation ofrnwomen in the mining industry. This study aims to establish whatrnthe socio-economic implications of the mining sector on womenrnare and create awareness of environmental integrity and femalernparticipation in the mining sector in the Kasugai mining area inrnTaita Taveta County through a Participatory Action Research PARrnapproach. This study empowered women to understand the challenges of artisanal mining and to develop home-grown interventions to enhance womens participation to the improvementrnof the welfare of women and the integrity of the environment inrnmining areas.
Objectives:
The mining sector is dominated by artisanal and small scalernmines with 3e5 percent of women constituting the total miningrnworkforce in Taita Taveta County Taita Taveta County Governmentrn2013 Rop 2014 Anyona Rop 2015. Artisanal mining relies onrnphysical menial labour which can be too strenuous for manyrnwomen. The violation of the rights of women and environmentalrndegradation associated with mining activities create an unfavourable environment International Institute for Environment andrnDevelopment WBCSD 2003 for the active participation ofrnwomen in the mining industry. This study aims to establish whatrnthe socio-economic implications of the mining sector on womenrnare and create awareness of environmental integrity and femalernparticipation in the mining sector in the Kasugai mining area inrnTaita Taveta County through a Participatory Action Research PARrnapproach. This study empowered women to understand the challenges of artisanal mining and to develop home-grown interventions to enhance womens participation to the improvementrnof the welfare of women and the integrity of the environment inrnmining areas.
Methodology:
2. Materials and methodsrn2.1. Study arearnThe study was conducted in the rural artisanal mining communities of Kasigau Ward. Seven villages around Kasigau Hillrnnamely Buguta Kiteghe Makwasinyi Bungule Jora Rukanga andrnKisimenyi Fig. 1 with an estimated population of about 8000rnGoK 1999 were selected for the study. The Kasigau communityrndraws its livelihood from peasant farming the keeping of livestockrnand artisanal mining. The location lies on a lower physiologicalrnzone lying slightly over 500 m above sea level with a mean annualrnrainfall of about 440 mm rainfall and an average temperature ofrnabout 23 C Taita Taveta County Government 2013. It lies on thernMozambique belt which is dominated by the remnants of thernEastern Arc Mountains where most of the gemstones and industrialrnminerals are found Rop Anyona 2015 Rop 2014. Such gemstones include Tsavorite red garnets green garnets yellow garnetsrnrubies green tourmalines yellow tourmalines blue sapphires pinkrnsapphires amethysts peridots iolites spinels rhodolites and kyanites Keller 1992 Rop 2014.rn2.2. The Participatory Action Research PAR approachrnThe PAR approach was adapted to ensure participation andrnempowerment of the stakeholders throughout the bottom-uprnresearch process and also that the participants owned andrnimplemented the action strategies to resolve the challenges theyrnface. Unlike conventional research that generates knowledge andrnsolutions to research problems PAR engages the respondentsrnfurther and challenges them to own the research problems and thernsolutions. Participatory research is a paradigm shift from conventional research which involves engaging stakeholders in thernresearch process and allocates equal participation of the researcherrnand the participants in pursuit of solutions to challengesrnKrishnaswamy 2004. In participatory research the people directlyrnaffected by the challenges are allowed to own them and find sustainable solutions. Methodologically however participatoryrnresearch does not include the stakeholders in the process ofrnproviding strategic actions to resolve the challenges or achieve thernsolutions. Action research is another participatory research processrnin which the research findings are used to reveal action strategies tornresolve the challenges without necessarily engaging the participant. Research methodologies are dynamic and methodologicalrnapproaches that involve the stakeholders in attaining sustainablernsocietal solutions are desirable. Therefore being a combination ofrnparticipatory research and action research Participatory ActionrnResearch PAR is an ideal research process that is engaged inrnfinding sustainable solutions to societal challenges. PAR gives direction and involves stakeholders throughout the research processrnright up to the point of developing actionable strategies andrnimplementing them. Guijt 2014 argues that PAR improves thernrelevance and accuracy of research establishes causality of thernchallenges and improves the understanding of the interventionsrnand adaptive implementation of action strategies.rnPAR was convenient in this case as it collaboratively andrnreflectively involved women in the research process which allowedrnthem to understand the challenges they face and to directlyrndevelop socioeconomic and environmental sustainability strategiesrnto address these challenges. PAR is methodologically convenientrnparticularly when engaging in research with populations marginalized from power and decision-making Khan Chovanec 2010rnLykes Hershberg Brabeck 2011 such as women in artisanalrnmining. The approach involved women and other stakeholders in arnlearning process to establish home-grown interventions to thernchallenges and to take action in order to empower the communityrnand to improve environmental conditions in the mining areas.rnBergold and Thomas 2012 contend that Participatory ActionrnResearch PAR ensures all the perspectives and voices of the participants are granted equal rights of expression and it shares thernvision of the research process. This in turn empowered women tornengage in productive mining activities in order to realize theirrnpotential. PAR is a participatory and democratic process concernedrnwith developing practical knowledge in pursuit of a worthwhilerncause that brings about action and reflection theory and practicernMorales 2016.rnStakeholder analysis was conducted in consultation withrnwomen. This analysis identified womens groups local NGOs in thernmining sector government agencies at the national and countyrnlevels as well as local leadership. The stakeholders were engaged inrnthe conceptualization of the research problem and identification ofrnthe challenges facing women throughout the participatory process.rnThe process involved designing research procedures undertakingrnthe research the analysis of the results making recommendationsrnand the formulation of actionable strategies. The underpinningrnprinciple was that the mining sector has the potential to alleviaternthe socio-economic challenges facing women and to eliminate social and environmental barriers.rnThe PAR process involved making courtesy calls and visits to thernstudy area. This was done to familiarize the researchers with therngovernance system identify other stakeholders and to selectrnwomens groups to participate in the study. Despite the fact thatrnwomen are traditionally considered as the backbone of familiesrntheir involvement in the mining sector in general is insignificant.rnWhile they dominate the artisanal and small scale mining ASMrnsector this has not transformed their standard of life. The studyrnprocess therefore empowered women to actively engage in thernASM sector to enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of the family.rnSeven womens groups from the seven villages in the Kasigau wardrnwere selected based on the assumption that 75 of each groupsrnmembers were involved in artisanal mining. A ten member teamrnwas selected which comprised of seven women one from each ofrnthe selected villages and one person from the County governmentrnCivil Society Organizations CSOs and the local leadership forrntraining as Trainers of Facilitators ToFs to lead the process throughrnthe mobilization of womens groups organizing inception meetings developing research tools conducting data collection andrnanalysis and developing action strategies. The ToFs trained andrnengaged women from all the groups in the research process. 2.3. Planning and mobilization for the studyrnPlanning meetings were organized to identify the householdsrnfor the study and mobilize women for the survey. The principalrnresearcher took the participants through the planning processrnwhere the procedures of the PAR were elaborated so that the participants could understand and internalize them. The ToFs wererntaken through in a participatory manner the research techniquesrnmethods of developing research tools and data analysis as well asrntechniques of developing actionable strategies which would engagernwomen in the mining sector. The target women groups and villagesrnwere mapped out with 49 households selected in 7 villages and 45rnwomen mobilized to take part in the PAR process. A total of eightrnFocus Group Discussions FGDs were also organized with onerngroup discussion in each of the selected villages and an additionalrnone with women from outside Kasigau but identified as part ofrnartisanal and small scale mining areas in the county in order tornshare their challenges their experiences and the benefits of thernmining sector with Kasigau women. The planning process ensuredrnall participants internalized the research process and were ablerndiscover the relevant information and data from the respondentrnhouseholds and FGDs.rn2.4. Data collection data analysis and action strategyrnThe ToFs developed and administered the questionnaires to thern49 households selected. The questionnaires consisted of semistructured questions and the responses were coded and enteredrnin to an excel spreadsheet in a computer and a flip chart wasrncreated for further discussion and analysis. The discussion guidernwas developed for the 8 Focus Group Discussions FGDs. Thernanalysis was done by the ToFs under the supervision of thernresearcher. Regular feedback from the women and planningrnmeetings facilitated an interactive data collection and analysisrnprocess. Land tenure and ownership community livelihood options challenges and mitigation measures opportunities of engagement policy framework and actionable strategies werernidentified as parameters for analysis and discussion. The studysrnfindings were discussed in reflection meetings which were attended by women from the seven villages and other mining areas inrnthe coastal region. The principal researcher took the participantsrnthrough the findings of the research and drew recommendationsrnfor actionable strategies. The participants gave their opinions andrnsuggestions which were carefully analyzed and considered as partrnof the results. The women reflected on the findings of the study andrndeveloped strategies for strengthening the existing womensrngroups through creating awareness among the women aboutrnenvironmental accountability land ownership marketing andrnvalue addition basic geological knowledge and skills advocacy andrnempowerment the mainstreaming of womens issues in laws andrnpolicies and lobbying for financial/credit facilities for the acquisition of tools and equipment for mining
Findings:
3. Resultsrn3.1. Women in mining in KasigaurnThe Kasigau ward consists of small scale mining communitiesrnwhich are employed in mining activities as workers and as miners.rnIt was observed that women had been engaged in the mining sectorrnmostly as casual workers in the mining processes and mineralrndealers with no legal mining rights Zururas and as marketingrnagents or brokers. These engagements have exposed women torndifferent socio-economic and environmental impacts.rnIt can be observed that 43 of the households women Fig. 2rnwho work in the mining sector work as Zururas prospectors whornscavenge and rent mining sites near abandoned or exhaustedrnmining sites with the belief that such sites have the potential forrnholding minerals See Fig. 3. Household women who work asrnmarketing agents selling gemstones of different types constituternabout 21 of household women Fig. 2. However they face challenges as they can be conned and cheated of the value of thernminerals due to their lack of basic gemological knowledge andrnskills. Female casual labourers who constitute about 19 of thernhousehold women in Kasugai Fig. 3 work long hours in the minesrnwith meager payments which is not a fair reflection of their effortsrnand the value of the minerals extracted. The operational environment for casual labourers is also not conducive for women as theyrnare located in the wilderness with harsh mining conditionsrnaffecting their safety and health. Women work in deplorable conditions with limited water for drinking or bathing this in turnrndiscourages women from engaging in mining. However with betterrnterms and working environment women would not be opposed tornbeing employed in the mining sector Labonne 1996. Theirrnemployment must come with the conditions of benefit sharing orrnagreed payment terms that will not jeopardize the wellbeing of thernfemale employee.rnIt can also be observed that artisanal and small scale mining isrnnot an economic source or livelihood provider for women in Kasigau however many women are increasingly involved in miningrnactivities Labonne 1996 thus there is a need to transform thernmindset of the women towards engaging in high value miningrnactivities.rn3.2. The socio-economic status of women in KasigaurnThis study aimed to understand the challenges facing women inrnthe mining sector so that strategic interventions and actions can berndeveloped to empower them to benefit from the artisanal and smallrnscale mining sector in a sustainable manner. The sources of livelihood for the Kasigau community are comprised of small scalernagricultural activities trade and artisanal and small scale mining.rnAbout 45 of women in Kasigau Fig. 4 take part in subsistencernfarming as their single main economic activity. Farming and livestock and farming and artisanal mining each represent 20 of thernwomen while small scale business and farming attracts only 9 ofrnthe women. Basket weaving and small scale business enterprisesrnare taken up by only 4 of the women and only 2 of the womenrnsolely engage in small scale business enterprises in Kasigau. Tornsafeguard against the impact of crop failure in the production
Results:
3. Resultsrn3.1. Women in mining in KasigaurnThe Kasigau ward consists of small scale mining communitiesrnwhich are employed in mining activities as workers and as miners.rnIt was observed that women had been engaged in the mining sectorrnmostly as casual workers in the mining processes and mineralrndealers with no legal mining rights Zururas and as marketingrnagents or brokers. These engagements have exposed women torndifferent socio-economic and environmental impacts.rnIt can be observed that 43 of the households women Fig. 2rnwho work in the mining sector work as Zururas prospectors whornscavenge and rent mining sites near abandoned or exhaustedrnmining sites with the belief that such sites have the potential forrnholding minerals See Fig. 3. Household women who work asrnmarketing agents selling gemstones of different types constituternabout 21 of household women Fig. 2. However they face challenges as they can be conned and cheated of the value of thernminerals due to their lack of basic gemological knowledge andrnskills. Female casual labourers who constitute about 19 of thernhousehold women in Kasugai Fig. 3 work long hours in the minesrnwith meager payments which is not a fair reflection of their effortsrnand the value of the minerals extracted. The operational environment for casual labourers is also not conducive for women as theyrnare located in the wilderness with harsh mining conditionsrnaffecting their safety and health. Women work in deplorable conditions with limited water for drinking or bathing this in turnrndiscourages women from engaging in mining. However with betterrnterms and working environment women would not be opposed tornbeing employed in the mining sector Labonne 1996. Theirrnemployment must come with the conditions of benefit sharing orrnagreed payment terms that will not jeopardize the wellbeing of thernfemale employee.rnIt can also be observed that artisanal and small scale mining isrnnot an economic source or livelihood provider for women in Kasigau however many women are increasingly involved in miningrnactivities Labonne 1996 thus there is a need to transform thernmindset of the women towards engaging in high value miningrnactivities.rn3.2. The socio-economic status of women in KasigaurnThis study aimed to understand the challenges facing women inrnthe mining sector so that strategic interventions and actions can berndeveloped to empower them to benefit from the artisanal and smallrnscale mining sector in a sustainable manner. The sources of livelihood for the Kasigau community are comprised of small scalernagricultural activities trade and artisanal and small scale mining.rnAbout 45 of women in Kasigau Fig. 4 take part in subsistencernfarming as their single main economic activity. Farming and livestock and farming and artisanal mining each represent 20 of thernwomen while small scale business and farming attracts only 9 ofrnthe women. Basket weaving and small scale business enterprisesrnare taken up by only 4 of the women and only 2 of the womenrnsolely engage in small scale business enterprises in Kasigau. Tornsafeguard against the impact of crop failure in the production system women combine livelihood sources. Mining activities arernincreasingly becoming an economic activity that women take partrnin although typically concurrently with other sources of incomernprobably due to the unpredictably low income from artisanalrnmining in the area.rnMining activities seem to be carried out in order to supplementrnother economic activities and it appears that women have not seenrnthe huge potential of mining despite the significant mineral wealthrnin the area. A substantial increase in womens engagement in thernmining sector as a source of livelihood is an indication of its potential for improving the wellbeing of the people of Kasigau andrnalleviating poverty in the area.rnThe incomes levels are varied depending on the kind of livelihood. Slightly over 60 of the households women earn on averagernless than Kshs. 3000 a month Fig. 5. This is equivalent to earningrnless than one dollar per day an indication of the high level ofrnpoverty in the area. On average only 18 of the households havernwomen earning between Kshs. 3001 and Kshs. 6000 and only 3rnearn over Kshs. 15000 in a month.rnThe low income of women could be attributed to over reliancernon traditional subsistence farming activities which is affected byrnthe weather conditions which can lead to low productivity. It can berndeduced that there is a desire to engage in mining but a lack ofrncertainty concerning the economic potential of these activities andrnfor this reason women combine it with other economic activities.rnMining can be a potential driver of socioeconomic transformationrnin mining areas and women can be empowered to exploit the highrneconomic potential of the mining sector in order to reduce povertyrnand foster viable avenues for sustainable mining and improvedrnwelfare. Mwaipopo Mutagwaba Nyange and Fisher 2004rncontend that artisanal mining has considerable potential tornreduce poverty and improve the creation of wealth.rn3.3. Ownership of land and mining sitesrnAccording to the PAR findings about 73 of women do not ownrnland Fig. 6a in Kasigau due to the oppressive and parochial cultural practices. This is one reason why women are not economicallyrnempowered as they lack the means of production. Culturally it canrnbe observed that woman do not participate in decision-makingrnmatters. Owning land empowers the woman to use it independently a decision that should be made by a man in such arndiscriminative socio-cultural setup. Consequently 78 of thernhouseholds women Fig. 6b in Kasigau do not own mining sites.rnThis is probably due to the cultural practices and the fact thatrnmining activities are not one of the core activities of women.rnHowever 22 of the households women who own mining sitesrnFig. 6b lease them from either government agencies or cooperative societies. The leases are expensive and barely affordable forrnfemale prospectors. It is imperative to note therefore that womenrnhave been denied their rights to own land by the cultural values andrnthe decisions relating to the productivity of the land being in thernhands of their male counterparts. This compels women to work asrnzururas in prospecting and mining adding to the increasing economic challenges women face when attempting to generate wealthrnfrom the sector.rnThe mining sites in Kasigau are located in the wilderness inrnranches and national parks which are often inaccessible by roadsrnexcept by feeder pathways. It is difficult for women to walk longrndistance in the wilderness as it exposes them to the dangers of wildrnanimal attacks. The infrastructure and facilities in the mines arernextremely poor. There is inadequate basic equipment and tools tornenable women to work effectively and they lack basic occupationalrnhealth and safety facilities exposing woman to pollution and otherrnenvironmental hazards. There is no personal protective gear in thernartisanal mines and a lack of adequate life savers and first aid kitsrnexposes women to physical injuries and psychological stress. Female miners have no basic training on occupational health andrnsafety issues thus they are unable to protect themselves in thernevent of the occurrence of a hazard. The mining activities haverncontributed immensely to environmental degradation due to thernclearance of vegetation to establish mining sites.
Conclusion:
5. ConclusionrnMost women are involved in mining as Zururas with no formalrntraining equipment or licenses to undertake mining activitiesrnbecause of low income and high levels of poverty. This scenario isrnsimilar to many other mining areas in Taita Taveta County as statedrnby women from outside the Kasigau mining areas. Women inrnKasigau need support and facilitation to enhance their potentialrnthrough education and training awareness and advocacy on landrnownership issues mining rights mineral and value addition andrnenvironmental sustainability. This will in turn lead to effectivernengagement in the artisanal mining sector. It should be noted thatrnorganized womens groups can create networks within theserngroups and with other groups from outside Kasigau which can leadrnto advocacy campaigning and lobbying for female empowermentrnin the artisanal mining sector. The PAR process has enabled womenrnto internalize the challenges in the artisanal mining sector and hasrnenabled them to devise strategies to change the situation throughrnsocioeconomic legal and environmental empowerment.rnAcknowledgementrnThis work acknowledges Cost Rights Forum CRF for coordination of the PAR process and mobilizing women and otherrnstakeholders under the WoMin Project. The study thanks all thernwomen from Kasigau and beyond who participated in this research.rnSpecial thanks goes to Women in Mining WoMin for providing thernfunding for this study.rnReferencesrnAfrican Union. 2009. African mining vision 2009. Ethiopia Addis Ababa: AfricanrnUnion.rnAfrican Union. 2014. Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want 2nd ed.. Ethiopia AddisrnAbaba: African Union.rnAnyona S. Rop B. 2015. The character and profile of artisanal and small-scalerngemstone mining community in Taita Taveta county Kenya. 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Publication Information
Author(s):
Focus County(s):
Taita Taveta County
Programme Area(s):
Public Health & Health Research Systems
Research Priority Area(s):
environmental/ occupational health
Disease Domain(s):
environmental health
Document History:
Publication Date: 08.Oct.2026
Conference Title:
Venue: