In January 2023, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), in partnership with IMPACT, brought together the country’s mining policy makers, supply chain actors, Canadian Embassy representatives and other technical and financial partners at an event to review the results of the Foundations for Peace project, which supports financial inclusion and peace building in artisanal gold mining communities in Burkina Faso.
The Foundations for Peace in the Artisanal Gold Mining in Burkina Faso project began activities in 2021 and aims to support a more responsible artisanal gold sector in the country while increasing security in mining communities.
At this event, ARM and IMPACT shared stories from the five mining communities involved in the project, findings and results; and socialised recommendations to continue working for the legal commercialisation of artisanal gold in the country.
Promoting the local economy
The project supported five artisanal gold mining communities in Centre-Ouest and Centre-Nord regions to establish Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). In VSLAs, members meet regularly over one year to invest their money and loan their growing funds to group members. The interest paid on loans goes back into the communal pot, so group members see their savings increase over time.
54 VSLAs were established with over 1,300 members—more than 80 per cent of them women. In the first year, members collectively saved over $USD 131,000 across all 54 groups. The VSLAs have reinforced income-generating activities in the regions, with members investing in transport and food services. This directly contributes to diversifying the economy in the local communities and increases their economic resiliency. To acknowledge and thank the participants, closing ceremonies were held in the five mining communities to socialise the results and jointly celebrate the success achieved. These results were also presented to regional authorities and partners in Réo and Korsimoro.
Legal gold trade
In the same period, the project ended with technical workshops at the capital and the regional level concluding the work of consultation with stakeholders for the analysis and formulation of recommendations on the obstacles to the legal trade of artisanal gold and identifying incentives for legal trade. This process resulted in the presentation and validation by the different actors participating in the consultation process of a technical document compiling the incentives to legal trade and the gaps to be closed to address the sector’s structural challenges.
Finally, a prime time television programme was broadcast on the country’s leading television channel, BF1, a special programme on the financial inclusion of artisanal mining communities, which shed light on the problems of exclusion faced by these communities and the contributions made by projects such as the one implemented by ARM. In the words of ARM’s coordinator, Désiré Nikiéma, “this community savings and credit scheme, which already existed in the agricultural sector, is a first for ASM and we have given ourselves the means to make it work. Thanks to the volunteers, local agents and workers who have done their bit throughout this project”.