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Gender live-chat

"Women artisanal miners in Bonsa River" by Peter Chirico

On July 18th we hosted a live-chat about our gender responsive value chain, the highlights of which have been compiled into a summary.

Below is an excerpt of that summary, click here to read the whole thing

Themes & Key talking points

What can the work on gender & corruption teach us in our work on gender & the extractives? Anecdotal evidence from participants pointed to the idea that women are less likely to engage in corruption, but that when they do, they do it on a higher scale than men. Corruption, Accountability and Gender: Understanding the Connection, a report from UNDP, explores the links.

Women’s reproductive health is dramatically affected by the environmental impact of extractive projects, which can influence not only ‘the women themselves but also foetal development, breast milk contamination, and oestrogen disruption.’

As well as raising awareness among women of these effects, these health implications should be included in any environmental impact assessment. Perhaps they could also be linked to millennium development goals? (i.e maternal health and infant mortality).

Potential allies to align with could be IIED and their work on small scale mining while another avenue would be to ‘push the implementation of the (recent) Minamata Convention which specifically address the AGSM’.

What of the media coverage of the extractive industries? How women are ‘represented in the media in relation to the industry and its effects, or reached through the media could be important to consider, especially in the first stage of the chain.’

Can we strike a balance between driving home how extractive projects affect women differently and adversely; yet avoid portraying women as victims?

Read the full summary.

This image is by Peter Chirico and reached the top ten of the Goxi photo competition. 

Contract transparency in Niger

Twenty billion dollars in 50 years. That’s how much potential revenue Niger is thought to have lost out on because of unfair deals and poorly negotiated contracts.

This particularly relates to Niger’s uranium, which is used to light up the homes of millions of French citizens. In the dying days of France’s empire, French nuclear giant AREVA managed to obtain a monopoly, for a pittance, over Niger’s uranium. The deals between Niger and AREVA (and by extension the French government) continued throughout the years to be shrouded in secrecy. Talking about how much Niger got for its uranium was the ultimate taboo and would often result in arrest and intimidation.

Today, the government of Niger is more open and has publicly stated its desire to renegotiate its contract with AREVA as it feels the relationship has been unbalanced, tipping strongly in favour of the nuclear company.

This neatly illustrates one of the dangers when contracts remain hidden - that countries do not get a fair deal for their resources. Without transparency, it is impossible for civil society and citizens to gauge whether their government has negotiated a fair deal. It is also impossible to determine whether a contract has been signed with the right company and for the right reasons – i.e with a company that has the most advanced technical skills for the project, rather than with a company that offered a huge signature bonus which is never seen again, or with a company that secretly belongs to the minister’s brother-in-law.

The benefits of contract transparency don’t stop there. If a contract is published, citizens and civil society will be able to see the terms the company has signed and monitor whether the company meets these.

That’s why, after years of secrecy, Nigerien activists were so pleased with the country’s new constitution in 2010. Article 150 of the constitution states that extractive exploration and exploitation contracts will be published in the official journal of the Niger Republic.

But the publication of contracts is only the first step. If citizens and civil society are to use the information contained within, they need to properly understand the contract.

In order to fill this gap, ROTAB (PWYP Niger), with the support of the Revenue Watch Institute and OXFAM NOVIB organised a technical workshop to train people on how to understand and analyse oil and mining contracts. The workshop gathered representatives from public administration, local authorities, parliament, civil society and extractive companies.

For Ali Idrissa, coordinator of ROTAB/PWYP Niger, this is a crucial issue to focus on: ‘We have seen that these contracts are poorly negotiated, and that this prevents Nigeriens from benefiting from their natural resources’. Mr. Idrissa also highlighted the fact that contracts include crucial information relating to the terms – such as financial, social and environmental information – that parties have to adhere to. He also stressed the importance that knowledge around contract issues should not remain the preserve solely of experts and specialists.

A quick update from Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a country rich in gold. Exploration and exploitation activity in the country has significantly increased over the past few years, making Burkina Faso Africa’s third largest site for gold exploration and fourth largest gold producer.

Yet despite this mineral wealth, Burkina Faso ranks just a few places from the bottom of the human development index, and life expectancy is just 55.

So that all the country’s citizens can benefit from the country’s gold, Burkinabe citizens have been campaigning for more transparency and accountability in Burkina Faso’s extractive sector.

PWYP Burkina Faso members have been particularly busy over the past month. On 16-17 July, the Africa network of journalists for integrity and transparency organised, with the involvement of PWYP member Coalition Mines Alertes, an information workshop for members of the media and civil society. Participants included representatives from both public and private media and across all mediums, from internet to TV through print and radio. There they discussed current trends and themes in Burkina Faso’s extractive sector, including the implementation of EITI, the future potential of the mining sector and the revision of the country’s mining code.

On 18 July PWYP members met with a recently formed network of parliamentarians dedicated to the good governance of Burkina Faso’s mining sector. The two parties discussed future opportunities for collaboration, particularly in light of the fact that the government is in the process of reviewing its mining code.

Indeed, this revision of the mining code, although it has been long drawn out, is an opportunity to instil transparency and accountability principles into the frameworks which determine how Burkina Faso’s natural resources are managed.

In the near future, PWYP Burkina Faso members are looking to become very involved themselves in this revision. They will also pursue social and environmental studies examining the effects of mining in the country, as there is currently little information to this end.

For more information, visit Burkina Faso’s page on our website.

Yemen’s suspension from EITI lifted

By ai@ce (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On 27 July, the EITI board lifted Yemen’s suspension. Yemen had been suspended from the initiative last February for lack of timeliness, as the board noted that the last EITI report to be published by Yemen related to information from 2007. The lifting of the suspension follows the publication of Yemen’s EITI reports relating to 2008, 2009 and 2010 on 30 June 2013. Yemen will need to publish its 2011 by the end of 2013.

Mr. Tawfiq Al Bathiji, of the PWYP Yemen coalition, stated that "We were supportive of the lifting of the suspension, since the 2008-2010 report represented  a huge improvement from the previous report (2005-2007). What was of particular importance to this one was that Hart group consulted and involved the YEITI members on every detail (big or small). As a Civil Society representative, I feel that the CSOs were heavily involved in the details of the reporting.” He continued, “There is a definite shift in the YEITI council's attitude towards civil society. Now; we are no longer marginalized or treated lightly."

PWYP welcomes Yemen’s reintegration into the initiative. Transparency around natural resources is always an urgent matter – every dollar from extracted resources that is misspent or lost is gone forever. For many countries, natural resources are an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and to establish a sustainable economy. If that opportunity is not seized, and natural resources not responsibly managed, an uncertain future lies ahead.

For Yemen, natural resource transparency is more urgent than ever. The recently published EITI reports showed that oil production, which accounts for 70% of government revenues, is slowing down. It’s time to firmly establish a transparent and responsible management of natural resources before there are no resources left to manage.

This image is by ai@ce from Wikimedia Commons

Job opps

New Technologies Program Officer - Transparency & Accountability Initiative

The Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI) is a donor collaborative that aims to expand the impact, scale and coordination of funding and activity in the transparency and accountability field. T/AI is hosted by the Open Society Foundations.

T/AI is seeking a Program Officer with a passion for helping to drive the “tech for T/A” field, with an agenda that aligns with the needs of T/AI’s funder members and those of the broader tech transparency and accountability field.

Start Date: As soon as possible

Duration: 18-month fixed-term contract with possibility of extension

Location: Open Society Foundation–London

For more information and how to apply, please visit T/AI’s website


Advocacy Officer - Revenue Watch Institute

The Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) is a non-profit policy institute and grant-making organization that promotes the responsible management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good.

RWI seeks to hire a capable, energetic and experienced policy advocate to lead the organization’s campaigns for more effective and widespread global transparency and governance standards in the oil, gas and mining industries.

Salary: Commensurate with experience; opportunities for professional advancement. Full-time position.

Start Date:  As soon as possible.

Location: New York, London or Washington, DC

For more information and how to apply please visit the Revenue Watch website