Blazing the Path to Formalization, Ghana



Focus Area

Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement





sustainable development goals


$189,860 CAD


Global Affairs Canada

Who Benefits

Direct and immediate beneficiaries
Ghana Minerals Commission
Small-scale miners
Mining communities in Ghana

Delivery Partners

University of Mining and Technology, Twarka
Diamond Development Initiative (DDI)

The Challenge

Despite high levels of risk, the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector provides important informal livelihoods to millions of people. However, these gains often come at a cost. Many newcomers to the sector are exploited by buyers and middlemen and become trapped in a cycle of borrowing and indebtedness. There is little official recognition of this exploitation and little done to break the cycle. It has been argued that formalization of ASM is the key to empowering unregistered miners and making the sector more sustainable.

Project Details

This project’s goal was to deepen the understanding of formal and informal financial flows in ASM communities. By recording and analyzing detailed financial dairies for 36 mining households in rural Ghana, the study exposed how formal and informal financial relations affect the livelihoods and well-being of poor individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. The research was shared with government officials to inform formalization and micro-financing models.

Cross-cutting Themes


  • Gender disaggregated data allowed an analysis of gender-related trends. Financial policy recommendations included consideration of the differential needs of each gender.


  • Financial flows mapping of ASM included activity related to mercury and other harmful substances and inform policy recommendations for environmental-safeguarding.


  • The Ghana Minerals Commission (GMC) is the chief ASM policy-making body in Ghana. The project informed the GMC’s development of services and policy for ASM formalization.


  • University of Mining and Technology (UMAT) researchers have been trained in the financial diary method and the target and mining households have been identified.
  • Detailed financial field data has been collected on 36 miners/mining households in rural Ghana (12 each from Kobriso, Japa and Noyem). The data was collected at the household level and therefore included individuals who played different roles across the ASM value chain.
  • The principal researchers conducted engagement workshops in February 2017 in each community to help strengthen people’s understanding of the research.
  • Hosted a workshop at the University of Surrey, England in July 2018. Participants included two Ghanaian representatives from the mining communities where the research for this project was conducted and two Ghanaian government officials, alongside international ASM experts. The workshop facilitated the early presentation of the financial diaries data analysis, with participants contributing to this analysis through workshop discussions.


This project improved understanding of the formal and informal financial relations and flows in a typical ASM community. This allowed:

  • Inform improvements to financial extension services for ASM stakeholders.
  • Improve decision-making regarding ASM formalization processes.
  • Enable informed consideration of the needs of impoverished ASM families in the development of poverty alleviation measures.
  • Inform international policy engagement on improved financial mechanisms for ASM.

project team


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