Engaging women and youth in aquamarine mining in Olode, Nigeria was the focus of Ms Olayeni Maryam Temitayo’s Nigeria return to work. Maryam is Executive Director Conservative Environmental Growth and Development Centre (CEGDEC) and has participated in two Australia Awards short courses on Local Economic and Social Development in the Extractives and Managing Social and Environmental Impacts of Mining.
In Nigeria, there is a national drive for the development of solid minerals sector in order to break the dependency on oil as the main foreign exchange earner. This has led to Ona-Ara local government encouraging investment in the Olode aquamarine rich mining community. However, women remain marginalised, experiencing challenges with access to markets and lack of capacity for value addition.
CEGDEC conducted a one-day workshop themed, 'A local economic and social development initiative for women and youths in Olode Aquamarine community' on January 25, 2017 in the neighbouring community of Apadi. It brought together local women, youths and other key stakeholders engaged in businesses around mining. They learned business development, vocational and marketing skills.
The workshop attracted community engagement/participatory group discussions/dialogue, where they highlighted their areas of interest. They were exposed to mining linkages such as catering, housing, tourism, transport, telecommunication etc. Subject to funding, a selected group interested in gemmology will be trained and subsequently introduced to trading houses/networks.
“The knowledge/skills of the Australia Awards course have empowered me to significantly contribute to addressing this challenge. The initiative is built around knowledge and linkages/networks established in the courses. So, I have been utilizing the resources (both human and material) gained."
One of the outcomes of the workshop is a group of artisanal miners is willing to legally register their business and formalize their activities. A newly formed group of artisanal miners from Arowojeka-Esan is willing to register for a mining lease. CEGDEC has introduced the group to the offices of the Principal Geologist, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency as well as Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office for further actions.
“With further support, training in lapidary and gemmology will drive change for local economic and social development of the aquamarine community."