One of the most prevalent governance issues in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (AGSM) today is its informality. The factors that contribute to informality are complex and multifaceted. They include a lack of formal employment opportunities, the remote nature of AGSM operations, limited access to fiscal and physical infrastructure, lack of status or recognition of the sector and weak or outdated regulation, along with complex socio-economic, financial, legal, institutional and geo-environmental impediments, which serve barriers to formalization. In recent years there have been numerous processes enacted to advance the formalization process globally. Formalization processes aim to improve the overall regulatory framework and enable sector development, as well as enhance health, safety and environmental stewardship in the ASGM sector.
To address the issue, in July 2018 CIRDI designed and implemented a course focusing on the Kenyan case in Migori County. The objective of this 6-day training program was to enhance knowledge of relevant Government Ministries as well as women, men and youth gold miners on key issues relating to formalization of the AGSM sector. Through the exchange of Kenyan and international expertise and in line with the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the training featured interrelated themes of:
- formalization and cooperative governance;
- gender equality in formalization policies and technical assistance;
- mercury-free gold recovery and environmental stewardship.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining of Kenya (State Department of Mining) served as a primary counterpart to raise awareness among ministerial staff and miners of Migori, Kakamega and Transmara on provisions under the 2016 Mining Act and public notices targeting illegal prospecting, mineral processing and disposal. Governmental authorities at the National and County level; along with ASGM representatives from Migori, Kakamega and Transmara, engaged in participatory dialogue, documenting opportunities and challenges for the formalization of AGSM cooperatives under the Mining Act. Building upon recent experiences on formalization in Migori County, the training provided a unique opportunity for the Government to exchange at the county and national level and engage with local ASGM stakeholders.