Tanzanians continue to suffer from poverty, despite the blessings of lumpsome treasures of varieties of natural resources they have. According to the recent MWANAHALISI newspaper investigator and reporter, Yusufu Aboud, the presence of Geita Gold Mine is a tragedy to most Geita residents. The residents are said to be no less than the poorest peasants and it is not easy to say that they have ever harvest greens for subsistence. It is difficult to understand that Tanzania is the third country in Africa for Gold production, with minerals produces more than half of the country’s foreign currency.
According to the investigator, the communities around the gold mine are left with highly polluted water, noisy pollution and unpleasant smell and air. The smoke and dust from gold mining accumulates in the water which the people use for drinking, cooking and washing. The report pointed out that the polluted water contain sarcastic or acidic chemical called cyanide which can obliterate even the bones when spilt on the body. The owners of GGM scare away birds that attempt to drink water from the dam that accumulate the chemicals from mining, where by scientists said that even when an animal eat a bird dead from cyanide, that animal dies. However, during dry season the dam with such chemical emits poisonous gas that people and animals inhale. According to Aboud’s report, legs of some people are ruined by the chemical from the dam.
The problems do not end at environmental pollution. The livelihood of the people around the gold mine is frustrating. According to Aboud, Mgusu Primary school which is very nearby the gold mine is very shocking. It is a school with 1204 students but with only four ‘classrooms’ with no desks, such that about 200 students sit in one room, on the floor, while others sit under a tree. About 20 students in the village who passed their primary school examination last year are said to have failed to join their secondary education because their families are suffering from severe poverty.
Similarly, teachers’ life in the school is tedious. The only 11 teachers in the school have to travel by bicycles about 28km from Geita town to school every monday. The school has no chalks, writing board and books. The residents around the gold mine are lacking enough schools, hospitals and clean water supply. Some families' kids in the village are suffering from marasmus and kwashiorkor, while they live in a refugee like camp-life following their eviction from the so called ‘mine mpya’ (new mine) by armed forces collaborated with GGM.
Environmental and social economic problems around natural resource rich areas in Tanzania are not exhaustive. The cases of North Mara have been hitting every corner. Similar problems are common around wildlife protected areas. The recent brutal eviction of Loliondo people cannot be underestimated. Loss of life of people and livestock and crop damage by wildlife is common almost around all wildlife protected areas.
While such problems are persisting, the responsible institutions for environment and natural resource conservation in the country appears to have failed. It is hard to believe institutions like NEMC are alive and Environmental Impact Assessments are being conducted to investments like GGM, and if it is undertaken, the reports are there to decorate the files in the offices. The ministries for Environment, minerals, food security, education, natural resources and the government as whole, is responsible for the blood, sufferings and loss of life of Tanzanians in Natural resource rich areas in the country.
It therefore challenge to CSOs and YETs to make sure that all investments especially in natural resource related areas in the country are environmentally friend and socially acceptable. Any necessary eviction of people and environmental degradation should be compensated based on reliable, acceptable economic analysis. The government and her environmental instruments, should be transparent on the investments, and held accountable when they do contrary to the principles.YETS lets stand up for our people !