Claudia Friedl (SP/SG), Nicolas Walder (Greens/EFA/GE), Corina Gredig (PVL/ZH), Pierre-André Page (SVP/FR), Jon Pult (SP/GR), Fabian Molina (SP/ZH) and Alliance Sud Director Andreas Missbach took part in the SWISSAID trip to Tanzania from April 18 to 22. Together with the Swiss ambassador to Tanzania Didier Chassot, they visited several artisanal small-scale gold mines. The mines are located in the north of the country and are followed by FADev, our local partner active in the promotion and formalization of artisanal mines and multi-stakeholder dialogue. The elected officials were also able to visit a gold market in Geïta where they exchanged with actors in the sector. They participated in a roundtable on the extractive sector in Dar es Salaam, in the presence of Tanzanian MP Neema Lungangira. This was an opportunity to highlight the economic importance of the gold sector in Africa and the role it can play in the fight against poverty, if it is properly managed. Indeed, it is estimated that there are between 20 and 25 million miners on the planet, who provide a living for approximately 100 million people. Worldwide, nearly 600 tons of artisanal gold are produced each year, representing one fifth of the world’s gold mining production. One last figure: these mines alone employ nearly 90% of the workers in the sector.
The purpose of the parliamentarians’ trip was to visit SWISSAID projects in Tanzania, in particular its Extractives project on artisanal gold mining.
By involving all the actors of the supply chain, by engaging in dialogue with the authorities and the private sector, and by adopting more binding rules, particularly in Switzerland which refines two-thirds of the world’s gold, it is possible to improve the socio-economic situation in the producing countries. SWISSAID is convinced of this.
While gold was the main focus of the trip, the parliamentarians were also able to visit a small agroecological farm in the Bagamoyo region. On a plot of land of about one hectare, they were able to contemplate the rich biodiversity of the farm: crops of rice, bambara nuts (a local legume that is very rich in nutrients), pineapples and papaya, all without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The couple owner of the property have been introduced to agro-ecological methods and are collaborating with SWISSSAID’s scientific partners, the University of Agriculture in Sokoine and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Several doctoral students are carrying out tests to compare the effects of different types of compost, liquid manure and biopesticides on the crops.
The parliamentarians visited the agro-ecological fields supported by SWISSAID projects. Here: Nicolas Walder and Pierre-André Page discuss agro-ecological methods with women farmers.
“The parliamentarians asked many questions about the implementation of our projects, the work with partners, the difficulties we encountered and the results obtained. The exchanges were particularly rich and constructive. This trip was a success!”, Delphine Neyaga. SWISSAID.
At the end of the visit, the delegation had the opportunity to discover the work of the researchers at the Ifakara Health Institute, which is particularly well known for its work in the fight against malaria, a disease that kills about 435,000 people worldwide each year, 90% of them in Africa. SWISSAID is not a partner of this institute, which is supported by Switzerland and collaborates with the Swiss Tropical Institute of Public Health. Nevertheless, the parliamentarians were given a guided tour by researchers and a representative of the Swiss Embassy in Tanzania.
Corina Gredig discovered the Ifakara Health Institute, which is very active in malaria research.
Positive balance sheet
Delphine Neyaga, SWISSAID’s Media and Campaigns Manager and a member of the delegation, was all smiles as she emphasized how important it was for the participants to see for themselves how SWISSAID’s work is carried out on the ground. “The parliamentarians asked many questions about the implementation of our projects, the work with partners, the difficulties we encountered and the results obtained. The exchanges were particularly rich and constructive. This trip was a success!”
Nicolas Walder, who signed up for the trip in order to discover this region of Africa and to learn more about SWISSAID’s work and the gold mining industry, was also very satisfied. “I was delighted. It was a unique opportunity to have access to these small mining structures”, he explains. In addition to the necessary material support for the miners, the national councillor emphasizes the importance of the advocacy activities supported by SWISSAID. “Between those who make huge profits from gold and those who extract the gold, break the stones, participate at the beginning of the chain and live in extreme poverty, there are absolutely shocking differences that must be erased. It is absolutely necessary to work on a better distribution throughout the chain. And for that, we need a governmental and an international framework, and this is where advocacy is essential”.