Monrovia – Liberia has developed a terms of reference for the participatory environmental monitoring committee.
By Fatu Abegail Kamara, contributing writer
The development of the TOR is intended to enhance participatory monitoring of the Artisanal Small Mining sector of Liberia.
With funding from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the document was drafted by Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forestry Development Authority the Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Gender with support from the Society for the Conservation of Nature and UNDP.
The draft TOR was reviewed by both stakeholders and the PEMC with a standard term of reference produced, validated and an MOU signed between stakeholders in the mining sector and all Forty-five members from three participatory environmental monitoring committees, one from the south east and two from the northwest during the weekend In Grand Bassa county.
Meanwhile, UNDP program coordinator Abraham Tumbay says the terms of reference is a great step for the PEMC as they serve as the tools that allow them to have a clear scope of their role in mining governance in Liberia as well as how they can impact the way the activities occur.
Giving the overall objective of the PEMC, Assistant Minister for mines and energy Johnson Willabo asserted that the Participatory environmental monitoring committee will provide a platform through which local communities including women and youths can serve as stewards of the environment in which they live and offer them an opportunity to engage with the ASM miners, the government and companies, as well as engage in meaningful, systematic dialogue while preventing and mitigating environmental degradation.
Artisanal and small-scale mining predominately of gold and diamonds takes place in many parts of Liberia with weak regulations due to low funding to statutory institutions which have led to dominance by unlicensed and illegal miners.
In August, UNDP with support from SIDA, and partners including the EPA, Ministry of Mines and Energy and SCNL began the promotion of participatory environmental monitoring through the formation of committees to help monitor artisanal small-scale mining in Liberia.
As stated in the TOR, members of the PEMC were also provided phones, jackets and boots as a means of boosting its effectiveness.
For his part, the assistant coordinator of the PEMC in Basigiah Town Grand Bassa County Emmanuel Grant, lauded the government of Liberia and partners for the initiative while promising a robust PEMC especially in Grand Bassa.