Since 2016, Burkina Faso has been plagued by increasing insecurity from Islamist-linked terrorism and banditry. More than two million people, predominantly women and children, have fled their homes to safer parts of the country due to terrorist attacks. This has exacerbated food insecurity, housing, livelihoods, and poverty issues.
Furthermore, in January 2022, the elected president was displaced by a military coup and a new government with a transitional parliament was established. The same security issues persisted and a second military coup took place on September 30. Last year featured an increasing insecurity, lack of humanitarian recourse, and sense of democratic fragility. It is within this context that the World Bank’s Land and Mining Management Strengthening Project is being implemented.
Industrial extraction of mineral resources frequently comes with negative impacts on communities. In Burkina Faso, documented impacts include:
- the loss of agricultural and residential lands, claimed for use by mining companies;
- the temporary or permanent loss of communities' income from farming and artisanal mining;
- involuntary displacement of populations;
- pollution of water and the environment by mining waste; and
- the impact on communities' health from mine wastes that leach into water that they use.
The World Bank’s project is intended in part to address these issues. Its objective is “to improve national land and mining administration services, register land rights in selected municipalities, and foster inclusive benefits sharing from the mining sector.” The project’s mining component mostly addresses mining companies’ land acquisition, land-use restrictions, and involuntary resettlement by seeking to build government capacity to enforce compliance with environmental and social standards.
Burkina Faso’s laws require compensation for land acquired by mining companies, but there is no national framework for compensation amounts or types for this and other impacts suffered by the population. The lack of land titles to establish ownership and other property rights is a primary cause of the lack of adequate compensation for land lost to mining. The project’s land titling component is intended to create a computerized national registry which will begin to address this. This would enable more standardized compensation for land where the government authorizes companies to mine. Contemporary practices vary from one mining site to another, thus fostering local tensions and conflicts. Civil society requests the World Bank work with the government to adopt a national standard, and reduce conflicts in mining sites relating to compensation.
The World Bank's supervision of the project is needed to support government adherence to environmental and social standards. A particular need, given the project’s expected impacts on community and individual land rights, is for the government to take into account the rights of stakeholders from marginalized groups (women, children, persons with disabilities).
As part of its project research and monitoring, BIC’s in-country partner ORCADE held meetings with communities at the mining sites to discuss the project. Communities were not aware of the project, but when learning of its aims, appreciated them. They expressed concerns that they would like to see addressed in its implementation. Their concerns relate to:
- displacement of the impacted villages to new housing sites;
- insufficient compensation related to loss of land and crop fields;
- loss of livelihoods without alternative prospects; and
- negative impacts from mining (dust, water and other environmental pollution) that affect their health.
Given these concerns, along with the project’s context and objectives, we recommend that the World Bank and project implementation unit (PIU):
1. Maintain coherence between land and mining components. The project’s focal areas, on mining and on land, are closely linked to promote coherent and sustainable development. However, pressure from mining sector interests to expand mines, may conflict with sound land management, e.g. in populated, agricultural, or watershed areas. Therefore, we recommend that the World Bank work with the government to achieve coordinated management of the land and mining sectors that supports sustainable economic development and social cohesion in the country. One way to achieve this is to apply the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) for spatial planning to promote coherence of action between the mining and land sectors, coordinated management, and optimal land use throughout the country.
2. Engage civil society. Burkina’s civil society plays a role in monitoring and evaluating public actions to foster equitable development with positive impacts. While this project is intended to bring about a significant improvement in the living conditions of affected communities, mining companies may seek to block changes to protect vested interests. We recommend that the project implementation unit establish a partnership with local civil society organizations (CSOs) with relevant expertise, particularly those present in the project's target communities. A healthy working relationship will go a long way in strengthening monitoring and accountability to affected communities.
3. Increase monitoring field visits. The project seeks to build the central government’s capacity for coordinated management of the land and mining sectors while fostering local community development, better information dissemination, and stakeholder participation in land and mining management. To oversee the local components, we recommend that the World Bank conduct frequent field trips, as far as security conditions permit, to assess progress, connect with CSOs, and engage the population.
4. Assist in the adoption of a fair national standard. The World Bank should work with the PIU to facilitate the adoption of a fair national standard for compensating communities impacted by industrial mining projects. This will help reduce conflicts and violence on mining sites, usually related to compensation for impacted communities, and increase fairness and timeliness of compensation provided. Fair compensation in this context requires addressing not only immediate impacts, but restoring lost livelihoods or enabling new ones, and facilitating access to water, land, and basic infrastructure.
This was co-authored by Jonas Hein, Organisation pour le Renforcement des Capacités de Développement (ORCADE)