Improving governance in Madagascar's artisanal and small-scale mining sector from the ground up

IIED has been supporting the agency for German development cooperation GIZ and its environmental programme in Madagascar in its work to promote better governance in the Malagasy artisanal and small-scale mining sector.

January 2015 - June 2020
Towards inclusive and responsible mining
A programme of work on how IIED is facilitating dialogue and collaboration for a fair and accountable mining sector

Pits at Bekily sapphire mine in Toliara are on average 18 meters deep (Photo: Andry Rabemanantsoa/GIZ PAGE Madagascar)

Madagascar's artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector accounts for around one million jobs in a country of roughly 25 million inhabitants, and is one of the largest sources of employment in the island nation. Income from ASM also complements earnings from agricultural and other seasonal activities in many rural communities.

Despite its potential to drive local development, Madagascar's ASM sector remains troubled by major challenges.

As an informal activity, its environmental footprint can be negative, with a detrimental effect on the country's rich biodiversity. Poverty and a lack of alternative employment push informal and illegal miners to exploit deposits in protected areas. Artisanal and small-scale miners are at constant risk due to poor health and safety practices. The miners' dependency on an unregulated market controlled by external interests traps them in a cycle of extreme poverty. 

Dialogue from the bottom up

Aiming to foster collaborative action for a more responsible ASM sector, GIZ's Conservation and sustainable use of natural resources programme in Madagascar and the Malagasy Ministry of Mines and Petroleum started a multi-stakeholder dialogue process in 2015. 

Early on, stakeholders agreed that, instead of starting with a focus on national stakeholders based in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo, the process would focus on two regions: Atsimo-Andrefana in the southwest, and Diana in the north. Local committees, comprising government and representatives of ASM and civil society, were set up to guide and oversee the work.

In addition, pilot projects were designed to go hand-in-hand with the dialogue, testing solutions while looking at the bigger picture. This process led to local 'action plans' for better ASM governance.

Early fruits of the dialogue

Collaboration among the committees, regional governments, municipalities, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Mines and GIZ Madagascar, as well as several other actors, has already yielded positive results in Atsimo-Andrefana and in Diana. These include:

  • The restoration of pilot ASM sites to control erosion, rehabilitate soils and eliminate the dangers posed by abandoned pits and shafts
  • Local artisans were trained in basic gemmology and how to make costume jewellery, and
  • Training for ASM miners in understanding the advantages of organising themselves in associations and cooperatives, leading to the creation of brand new associations.

Importantly, the work to date has also contributed to improvements in local governance. For example:

  • Mayors of mining communities received training on the legal mining framework and on the mining revenues they are entitled to receive
  • Mayors of mining communities were trained on how to develop participatory budgets to manage mining revenues taking into account community priorities 
  • Plans were developed for decentralised 'one-stop shops' that will provide all public services and administer regulations related to ASM, and
  • Proposals were made for improving the taxation system to increase the revenue of the local municipalities from ASM activities.

Though knowledge and data remain a major challenge for the ASM sector, these local processes delivered some early results, including: 

  • Inventories of existing ASM sites in the pilot communities of Mahaboboka and Ambinany in Atsimo-Andrefana, undertaken with a view to identifying site-specific technical solutions
  • Inventories of gold miners in Betsiaka and of illegal sapphire miners in the National Park of Ankarana in the region of DIANA, and
  • Brainstorming with colleagues from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Madagascar on how ASM can be integrated in EITI reporting in Madagascar in the future.

Regional and national stakeholders gathered in Antananarivo in October 2016 (Photo: Andry Rabemanantsoa/GIZ PAGE Madagascar)

In October 2016, recommendations and findings from the regional pilots were shared in a national workshop that is paving the way for a new collaborative strategy for better governance in the ASM sector in Madagascar.

This strategy is being developed in a participatory manner by the government, including the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, civil society organisations, the private sector (including representatives of ASM miners), representatives of ASM communities, and GIZ's environmental programme. The development of the strategy is being led by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and GIZ.

While still in draft form in March 2017, the strategy was already being used to improve the legal and regulatory framework, environmental practices, social conditions and economic impacts, and the fiscal system related to the ASM sector. This strategy comes at a critical time as Madagascar's government is drafting a new mining code.


Madagascar sapphires: teaching gemmology for equal opportunity

This video documents a training programme for artisanal miners in three rural townships in southern Madagascar. Funded by the German government and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian gemologist Charles Lawson together with Malagasy colleagues delivered workshops teaching basic gemmology skills to miners in order to help them get a fair price for their gemstones. Watch the video below:

Laying the foundations for dialogue

IIED is convening dialogue processes in Ghana and Tanzania, and supporting GIZ in Madagascar (Image: IIED)IIED is working in a number of countries to convene multi-stakeholder dialogues on artisanal and small-scale mining. Further locally driven processes are already under way in Ghana and Tanzania.

More about IIED's ASM dialogues: