WiM-Africa, Partner, react to arrest of nursing mothers, children at illegal mining sites


Dr. Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji, Executive Director, WiM-Africa.

Women in Mining Africa (WiM-Africa) and the Richflood Foundation have called on the government of Niger State to adopt ‘a compassionate and sustainable approach in addressing the challenge of illegal mining in the State.’

According to the collaborating NGOs, the arrest of nursing mothers, teenagers and children at Illegal mining sites in the State is not a sustainable approach and does not address the root cause of problem.

The non governmental organizations however commended the Niger State government for being mindful of illegal mining.

A joint statement, signed by the Executive Director, WiM-Africa, Dr. Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji and Gender Specialist at Richflood Foundation, Rita Babatunde, said: “WiM-Africa and its Implementing Partner, Richflood Foundation, are deeply concerned about the recent arrests of nursing mothers, teenagers, and children at illegal mining sites across Niger State, as reported by Vanguard Newspaper.

“While we commend the efforts of the government of Niger State to curb illegal mining activities and protect natural resources, we encourage the government to adopt compassionate and sustainable approach to addressing the root causes of illegal mining.”

In an interview granted to the team of Richflood Foundation and WiM-Africa, comments were raised to indicate that the recent raids conducted by the Niger State Ministry of Mineral Resources, resulting in the arrest of these vulnerable groups, highlight the urgent need for comprehensive socio-economic interventions in mining communities.

“As an organization working with WiM-Africa and pursuing its objectives in Nigeria through the ‘Voices of Children from the Pits’ Program, we are dedicated to promoting the welfare of women and children in mining areas.”

“We acknowledge the compassionate decision made to promptly release nursing mothers and elderly women,” the collaborating organizations said in a joint statement, adding that it is imperative to treat human being with dignity and provided them with the support they need avoid illegal mining and embrace lawful means of livelihood.”

The groups expressed concern that the prevalence of women and children in illegal mining underscores the need for targeted educational and economic support programs.

The statement said: ‘Richflood Foundation and WiM-Africa are committed to implementing the ‘Voices of Children from the Pits’ (VOC) program, which aims to rescue children from hazardous mining sites, raise awareness about the dangers of child labor, and facilitate access to education for these vulnerable children.’

‘Following the ongoing VOC program, we propose a collaborative effort with the Niger State government to organize a workshop on August 26th, 2024. The workshop will aim to raise awareness among women in mining communities about the importance of education for their children and gather information about affected children to facilitate their enrollment and retention in formal schooling systems.’

“We have also provided a few recommendations for the consideration of the state government and stakeholders in the State and in Nigeria.”

“First on the list is Educational Opportunities, which we consider a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. Providing educational opportunities for children in mining communities will not only protect them from hazardous labor but also equip them with the skills needed for a better future.”

“Economic Empowerment is the second goal on the agenda: We are of the opinion that supporting nursing mothers and other women in mining communities with alternative livelihood options is crucial. Vocational training and microfinance programs can empower these women economically, reducing their reliance on illegal mining.”

Beaming on the community, continuous awareness and sensitization programs are essential to educate the community about the dangers of illegal mining and the importance of sustainable practices.

“Moreover, fostering collaboration and support cannot be overemphasized. Using a multi-stakeholder approach involving government agencies, NGOs, and community leaders is necessary to develop and implement effective interventions,” says Rita Babatunde, Gender Specialist at Richflood Foundation.

Babatunde assured that “WiM-Africa and Richflood Foundation are willing to collaborate with the Niger State government and other stakeholders to create sustainable solutions that protect both the environment and the welfare of women and children in mining communities.”

Leave a Reply