Oil Spills Are Contaminating the World's Water SourcesOil spills happen all over the world. These oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources and destroying marine life. Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that more than 1 million gallons of oil contaminate the oceans. These oil spills cost the world important natural resources. Oil spills can happen in many ways. Some are accidental spills while mining the oil from the Earth; others happen due to oil rig malfunctions, attacked tankers or drowned tankers. The containment and clean-up of these spills can cost millions even billions of dollars.

Top 6 Major Oil Spills

The top six major oil spills in the world as of early 2019 are:

  1. The 1991 Gulf War Oil Spill resulted in 240 million gallons of oil spilled.
  2. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Spill (also considered the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) resulted in an estimated 53,000 barrels of oil spilled into the ocean every day for 3 months.
  3. The 1979 Ixtoc 1 Oil Well Spill resulted in 140 million gallons of oil spilled.
  4. The 1979 Atlantic Empress Oil Spill spilled 88.3 million gallons of oil.
  5. The 1983 Nowruz Field Platform Oil Spill spilled 80 million gallons of oil.
  6. The 1991 ABT Summer Oil Spill resulted in 51 million gallons of oil spilled.

 Just these oil spills alone have caused many lost lives and damage to marine life and the ecosystem on which humanity depends. When marine life is attacked, it has an effect on world populations. Oil spills kill thousands of marine life species when they occur. While cleaning the oil spills does save some, it is not before the damage has been done. Humans partly rely on marine life to survive.

Poverty and Water Contamination

Oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources because it makes water unconsumable. It contaminates parts of the ocean and can seep into the clean water supply that humans and other species need in order to survive. It can seep into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water naturally connected to the ocean. While developed countries have access to clean water by manufacturing companies, many underdeveloped countries do not. Poverty ridden countries tend to suffer the most when water is contaminated due to lack of access to water bottles or barrels to collect rainwater.

Furthermore, the World Wildlife Fund posits that approximately three billion people around the world rely on seafood as their only source of protein. Oil spills continue to impact an already suffering ecosystem. Around 85 percent of marine fish stocks have already been either fully exploited or overfished. Add these two factors together and the marine life that poverty-ridden countries rely on begins to decrease and an already struggling country begins to fall even more.

ISCO Is Trying to Clean Up the Oceans

The International Spill Control Organization (ISCO) is a nonprofit NGO that was established in 1984 and has members in over 45 countries. ISCO has helped clean up multiple oil spills including Exxon Valdez in 1989, the Gulf War Oil Spill in 1991, Lebanon Oil Spill in 2006 and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010.

Along with the aiding of cleaning up oil spills, ISCO also helps to raise co-operation and preparedness worldwide, promoting technological development and making knowledge on spill control available for all organizations when needed. Some recommended safety tips on preventing spills include regular inspections of containers including both piping and mechanical properties, proper loading and unloading procedures and proper training.

Why and how oil spills are contaminating the world’s water sources are important for society to take notice in because it costs hundreds to millions of dollars to clean up but will already have done damage towards contaminating water sources and damaging marine life ecosystems which affects poverty-ridden countries. Many oil spills can be avoided if more action towards taking safer steps to obtaining and transporting oil is taken. By increasing the safety of these actions, oil spills can begin to stop contaminating water sources.

Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Unsplash

The Power of Mining and the Future of Eritrea

Eritrea is a poor country located in the horn of Africa. Its high poverty rate of 50 percent is a burden on Eritreans seeking greater well-being. Although the country is poor, the mining sector has shown considerable promise for the future of Eritrea. The GDP growth rate increase from 2.2 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011, which made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world at the time. Its current GDP growth rate is high at about 4 percent. One reason for its high average growth is the mining sector.

Abundant Natural Resources

Eritrea has many natural resources that account for its growth, such as copper, granite, potash, gold and marble. The United Nations Development Programme believes the Colluli Mining Share’s potash project in Eritrea has the potential to boost its economy while also appealing to the country’s sustainability agenda. The Australian mining company Danakali and the Eritrean government share the project 50-50.

The largest known deposit of potash or SOP in the world exists in Eritrea. Globally, SOP is currently consumed at a rate of seven million tonnes annually. Seamus Cornelius, the Colluli company director, said that Eritrea could meet that demand for at least 30 years. With the implementation of the project, locals could find work at the mines, especially those in poverty.

Economic Effects

The U.N. report also reported the impact of the Colluli mine. Reports showed that SOP could make up to 50 percent of exports in Eritrean by 2030 and comprise at least 3 percent of Eritrean GDP by 2021. It could also have a strong impact on agriculture productivity, indirectly employing upwards of 10,000 people by 2026. Another positive aspect of the project is that it will not affect any animals or plants because the mine is located in an uninhabited salt basin.

China’s Sichuan Road & Bridge Mining Investment Development Corp. is also seeing potential in Eritrea, particularly in copper, gold, silver and zinc. Estimates determine that more than 574,000 tons of copper, 930,000 ounces of gold and 1.2 million tons of zinc could be found in four deposits near the city, Asmara. July 9, 2018, marked the end of Eritrea’s conflict with Ethiopia, which increased notice from foreign investors interested in Eritrea’s mines such as China. Due to peace between the two nations, the future of Eritrea appears optimistic.

The Ports Rehabilitation Project

The World Bank upgraded and rehabilitated two major ports in Eritrea, Massawa and Assab through a $30 million project that was approved in 2011. Results were substantial, particularly for the Massawa port. Bulk cargo handling exceeded the original target of 1,100 tonnes by hitting 1,457. This was a 71 percent increase from 850 tonnes per ship per day in 1997. Natural resources are a top exporter and the Ports Rehabilitation Project exponentially improved productivity and efficiency. It especially enabled easier access for petroleum imports into Eritrea.

Corruption and Privatization

Canadian mining company Nevsun Resource had a 60 percent stake in the Bisha Mine, which mines zinc and copper. Accusations of forced labor caused the company to appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court in January 2019. One of the largest gold producers in the world, Zijin Mining Group Company, acquired Nevsun. After the human rights incident, Nevsun began training its employees on Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and now has an ongoing presence in infrastructure projects including water accessibility and supply in Eritrea.

Eritrea has one of the fastest-growing economies due to the strength of its mining sector. With the help of nongovernment organizations, external companies and other parties, the economy could become stronger. Growth from not just from the mining sector but also the agriculture sector would increase possibilities for the future of Eritrea.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Oil Discovery in Guyana
The 2018 oil discovery in Guyana means this former British Colony can expect a massive increase in wealth by the early 2020s. The country found over three billion barrels worth of oil off its coast and it will likely positively impact its future economy. By 2020 Guyana will be a major petroleum producer. This may lead to a 300 percent increase in Guyana’s GDP by 2025.

For a country that heavily relies on agricultural, mining and lumber exports such as sugar, rice, bauxite, timber and gold, the oil revenue will heavily impact the Guyanese economy. As of now, Guyana’s agriculture industry experiences many ups and downs because of its vulnerability to floods. Between 1990 and 2014, floods were responsible for 93.6 percent for Guyana’s economic inactivity.

Currently, the oil project is still under production so it does not account for any percentage of the GDP. The oil and gas revenue, however, for the 2017 fiscal year is $2.8 billion. This accounts for only 14 percent of the Guyanese revenue generated by extractives.

As of 2017, 36 percent of Guyana’s population lived in poverty with unemployment rates almost reaching 12 percent. Education and trade learning are essential for the elevation of a country out of poverty. However, many are unable to continue their education after primary school. Youth from 15 to 24 make up 40 percent of the population, yet unemployment rates for them are 22 percent. Fortunately, with the recent oil discovery, Guyana’s oil industry has hired 10 more graduates of the University of Guyana in 2018 than it did in 2017. However, since the oil discovery, Guyana’s unemployment rates have remained around 11 to 12 percentage. As of 2019, oil and gas companies claimed 51 employees making up only 0.02 percent of the population.

What is the Resource Curse?

The resource curse refers to the idea that countries with a significant amount of their own natural resources experience little economic growth, development and more authoritarianism. The oil industry is unpredictable, and when governments tend to rely on it, citizens suffer. Several countries that were once in Guyana’s shoes, like Nigeria and Venezuela, experienced corruption and a contradicting lack of economic growth when their oil business began to boom. The influx of wealth that accompanies the discovery of oil, transparency, accountability and active oversight are important for avoiding the feared resource curse.

Venezuela, Nigeria and the Resource Curse

Venezuela’s oil reserves are larger than any other country’s. Since Venezuela’s focus on oil meant that it ignored other industries, however, poverty in Venezuela has reached devastating highs. Children have been suffering from malnutrition at alarming rates, and as of 2018 up to two million people have fled the country.

In Nigeria, the influx of oil came with a bevy of problems including theft of oil pipes, damage to nearby ecological systems, oil spills and abuse of the natural resource wealth. According to the World Bank, only one percent of the Nigerian population benefits from just 80 percent of the revenue brought in by the oil. The attention and support that Nigeria received for its oil industry also meant that the country neglected other industries like agriculture.

The EITI and NPPDG in Guyana

Upon the recent oil discovery in Guyana, the country has become apart of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the New Petroleum Producers Discussion Group (NPPDG).

The goal of the EITI is to ensure that a country is managing its natural resources in a way that benefits its citizens as much as possible. Some key standards of the EITI include informing the public, providing transparency within governments and companies dealing with the natural resources and holding those in power accountable.

As of 2019, the EITI has introduced new transparency requirements. One requirement impacting Guyana specifically is the contract transparency requirement. This states that by the year 2021, all participating countries must publish new oil, mining and gas contracts. Guyana has committed itself to the formulation of new contracts along with three other countries.

The purpose of the NPPDG is to help emerging oil producers make effective policies and decisions and remain proactive. Governments receive training sessions, mentorships and existing techniques via current successful oil-producing countries. Countries can provide one another with advice and support when facing novel challenges. In a summary of the most recent NPPDG meeting, consistency and politics were topics of discussion for Guyana. Because oil-production is a long-term project, keeping plans consistent and on track despite the occasional election of new leaders is a topic of concern for Guyana. This is mainly because prior to the discovery of the oil, Guyana began its Low Carbon Development Strategy. In this strategy, the country developed plans to fight climate change through sustainable development. According to the report, participants of the meeting are concerned that the recent oil discovery and subsequent oil production may not fit in with the Low Carbon Development Strategy.

Guyana’s New Sovereign Wealth Fund

Another proactive step taken by the Guyanese government since the oil discovery in Guyana includes the recent approval of the creation of a sovereign wealth fund. A sovereign wealth fund comprises of money from the country’s natural resources and a country uses it to boost its economy. With a sovereign wealth fund, Guyana has allowed the opportunity for other industries it relies on, such as sugar and gold, to benefit from the revenue that the oil will produce. Furthermore, since the oil industry is somewhat unpredictable, the sovereign wealth fund will allow the country to save up money in the event of hard times.

All in all, this oil discovery in Guyana could have an extremely positive impact on the Guyanese economy. Looking at other successful oil-producing countries for guidance, and learning from other country’s mistakes will allow Guyana to make the best decisions for its citizens.

– Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr

Goonj
Goonj is a non-governmental organization working in various parts of India. It aims to share unused and unrequired materials from urban households with people living in rural areas to fulfill their needs. The organization believes that countries and economies can use urban discard to alleviate poverty and enhance the dignity of the poor.

The organization works across 23 states in India with 250 partner groups. It has offices with 150 full-time people and thousands of volunteers. The organization receives about 80-100 tonnes of material each month and turns it into material that people can productively use in the remote and impoverished areas of the country. In its latest annual report for 2017 to 2018, Goonj highlights that it has been able to reach over 3,600 villages in India and has dealt with more than 4,000 tonnes of material.

Various Initiatives

Goonj has performed various activities in different fields of work from 2017 to 2018. Some of its highlights include sanitation activities where it repurposed basic essentials like clothes and utility items into materials for women to use during menstruation. In addition to this, its initiative, Not just a Piece of Cloth, also aims to break the culture of shame and silence around menstruation. It turns these cloths into biodegradable clothes for women to use. When people from urban areas contribute their cotton bed sheets, curtains and shirts, the organization turns them into cloth pads for women in rural areas. It also holds gatherings for women to talk openly about the issue of menstruation, which many still consider a stigma in Indian society.

In the field of education, Goonj’s initiative School to School works towards using urban school material to address gaps in the rural education systems in India. Goonj was able to share 39,416 school kits to over 2,100 schools and 1,200 educational setups in villages. In addition, children in rural areas learn value for their belongings as they take up various educational and behavioral change activities which reward them these school kits. Not only does this initiative provide the poor with resources for education, but it also teaches them values.

Other areas of work that the organization focuses on are road repairs, disaster relief and health that it can perform with the excess raw materials it receives. Its initiative Cloth for Work works on rural developmental activities while Raahat provides disaster relief. Meanwhile, Green, an in-house brand, creates items from the last bits of materials it receives. These are also extremely successful ventures and have impacted a large population of the country.

Awards and Recognition

Goonj has received various awards for the work it does all over India. In 2012, NASA and the U.S. State Department chose it as a Game-Changing Innovation and in the same year, Forbes magazine listed Anshu Gupta, Goonj’s founder, as one of India’s most powerful rural entrepreneurs. In recognition of its important work, Goonj has received the Japanese Award for Most Innovative Development Project by the Global Development Fund and continues to impact the country to build sustainability and impact the rural population.

– Isha Akshita Mahajan
Photo: Flickr

Diamonds in Botswana

Botswana, located in southern Africa, has a population of 2 million. The country has achieved an impressive record of economic development and poverty reduction over the last half-century. In 1950, Botswana’s GDP per capita was $1,344. Today, it is $15,015, making Botswana a middle-income country. As the second-largest exporter of diamonds, the prudent economic management of diamonds in Botswana is responsible for much of this growth.

The Resource Curse

Paradoxically, many countries that discover large domestic reserves of natural commodities like petroleum, gold or rare-earth metals experience economic stagnation or decline. A recent paper by the International Monetary Fund explains that this trend often occurs because of commodity-dependence. When a country is heavily dependent on just one commodity export and the price of that commodity declines, there is no other revenue stream to salvage the economy. However, Botswana is a standing reproach to this trend. Judicious fiscal policy has allowed Botswana to reap the rewards of their vast diamond reserves while avoiding many potential setbacks.

Botswana’s Fiscal Prudence

Due to its capital intensive nature, the employment potential of mining is Botswana has always been limited. While diamonds make up 40 percent of Botswana’s GDP and 90 percent of Botswana’s exports, diamonds in Botswana only account for four percent of employment. As a result, the government has had to find ways to distribute the wealth generated from diamond exports across the country’s population.

Botswana has been lauded for the effective management of its diamond supply. In particular, the country has employed two strategies to ensure that its diamond exports promote sustainable, egalitarian economic growth: decoupling expenditure and revenue and investing in economic diversification.

First, Botswana has chosen not to automatically increase government spending during economic booms. Instead, when diamond prices rise and government revenue increases, Botswana often saves cash to cushion the blow during price shocks. This long-term economic mindset has prevented recessions. For example, the World Bank writes that when diamond revenues fell in 1981, Botswana used a rainy day fund to avoid any drastic decrease in government expenditure.

Botswana uses six-year National Development Plans to outline their expenditure levels. These plans involve feasibility checks to make sure that investment projects are sustainable even if government revenue falls. Once the National Development Plan has been approved, no additional projects can be added without a majority vote from parliament. These mechanisms work toward assuring that Botswana has enough reserve cash if its diamond reserves falter.

Economic Diversification

The second strategy Botswana uses to grow its economy is diversification into sectors other than diamond mining. A variegated economy is less vulnerable to commodity price shocks. Botswana has invested much of its earnings from diamond exports into incentive structures that encourage manufacturing and agriculture. In 2005, Botswana created the Business and Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) tasked with identifying barriers to diversification and crafting responsive action plans. As a result of this focus, the Botswanan economy has continued to grow even when global diamond prices fall. What is more, manufacturing today comprises 14 percent of Botswanan GDP and is more diversified than it was at independence. Even though Botswana has relied on diamonds for the last few decades, manufacturing growth in Botswana outpaced the sub-Saharan African average from 1970 to 1996.

Botswana’s Progress

Good governance has propelled Botswana from a low-income to a middle-income country. In 1985, 59 percent of the population was living in poverty. Today, that percentage has dropped to 19 percent. In 1966, 60 percent of Botswana’s government expenditure came from foreign aid. Today, only three percent of expenditure comes from foreign aid. As Botswana continues to aim for economic diversification and prudent fiscal management, they stand as an impressive example of the impact that judicious economic policy can have on a vulnerable population.

– Abraham Rohrig
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights Violations in Diamond Trading
Globally, about 90 million carats of rough diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold are mined for jewelry every year, generating more than $300 billion. With billions of dollars being spent on jewelry every year, brands often still face problems of guaranteeing that their products are not tainted by human rights violations in diamond trading.

Efforts to combat these violations include the introduction of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), a system of export and import controls for rough diamonds. Almost two decades have passed since governments came together to end the trade in “blood diamonds” that fueled several brutal wars in Africa, yet injustices occur as mentioned in top10binary.com.

Certified Humane

The Kimberley Process unites administrations, civil societies and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds — ‘rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments’ — around the world. It is a binding agreement that imposes extensive requirements on every participant. The visible evidence of this commitment is The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme which both safeguards the shipment of ‘rough diamonds’ and certifies them as conflict-free.

Under the terms of the KPCS participants must:

  • satisfy ‘minimum requirements’ and establish national legislation, institutions and import/export controls
  • commit to transparent practices and to the exchange of critical statistical data
  • trade only with fellow members who also satisfy the fundamentals of the agreement
  • certify shipments as conflict-free and provide the supporting certification.

The process unites 81 countries around the world which have their participants being responsible for stemming 99.8 percent of the global production of conflict diamonds. The Kimberly Process is underpinned by the United Nations mandate and is backed by leading civic organizations.

Diamond fields located in eastern Zimbabwe’s Marange, have shown that even with the Kimberley Process, the trade in diamonds still gives rise to abuses. Residents living near the diamond fields have suffered forced labor and torture, among other abuses.

Theft of Livelihoods in Marange

Thousands of villagers around the area took to the streets in late April to protest the alleged looting of diamond revenue by state-owned companies. These protests quickly turned violent with witness interviews by Human Rights Watch stating how armed soldiers and police firing tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators.

In March 2016, former president Robert Mugabe, with no evidence being provided, told the state broadcaster that diamonds worth more than $15 billion had been looted in Marange. No one was held to account for the alleged looting and years have continued to pass with alleged diamond revenue looting by state-owned companies, with no benefits to the local communities, adding to growing frustrations and protests of villagers.

Violence has been a reoccurring response by Zimbabwe’s armed forces with documentation from Human Rights Watch on these armed forces having coerced children and adults into carrying out forced labor, and tortured and harassed local villagers when they seized control of the diamond fields. More than 200 people were killed by armed forces personnel in Chiadzwa, a previously peaceful but impoverished part of Marange, in late October 2008.

Human rights violations in diamond trading led Marange communities to petition the Parliament of Zimbabwe in March to “ensure diamond mining contributes to the development of the health, educational and road infrastructure of the Marange community, especially areas affected by diamond mining.”

Combatting Human Rights Violations in Diamond Trading

More work needs to be done to fight human rights violations in diamond trading. It is estimated that in order to produce one gold ring holding a diamond, 20 tons of mined waste is produced. The earth mined ore is mixed with cyanide, a known toxic poison, to dissolve the gold or silver from the ore, making the land and waterways around the mining area poisoned.

This contributes to communities facing ill health due to the mine’s pollution of waterways with toxic chemicals. Zimbabwe authorities have failed to ensure greater revenue transparency from diamond mining. Regulating mechanisms for diamond mining are needed to ensure the rights of local communities to information and to protect them from forced evictions and from negative health and environmental impacts of mining.

The European Union is a major centre for diamond trade and within the EU, Council Regulation 2368/2002 sets out the criteria for trade in rough diamonds in order to ensure adherence to the requirements of the Kimberley Process. This year, the EU will hold the Kimberley Process Chairmanship. In this capacity, the EU aims to make progress in supporting the honest diamond trade and meet the call of the international community to ensure that the Kimberley Process is equipped to continue playing its role in combatting human rights violations in diamond trading.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

Parliamentary Democracy Government
There are several types of democracies, and here we will explain what a parliamentary democracy is by comparing it to a presidential democracy, which we have in the United States.

In short, a parliamentary democracy is a system of government in which citizens elect representatives to a legislative parliament to make the necessary laws and decisions for the country. This parliament directly represents the people.

In a presidential democracy, the leader is called a President, and he or she is elected by citizens to lead a branch of government separate from the legislative branch. If you remember back to government class, you will remember that the United States has three branches of the government: the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. The President leads the executive branch of government.

 

Role of Parliamentary Democracy

 

In a parliamentary democracy, you have a Prime Minister, who is first elected as a member of parliament, then elected Prime Minister by the other members of the parliamentary legislature. However, the Prime Minister remains a part of the legislature. The legislative branch makes the laws, and thus the Prime Minister has a hand in law-making decisions. The Prime Minister works directly with other people in the legislature to write and pass these laws.

In our presidential democracy, we still have a legislature, but we also have a president. He is separate from the legislature, so although he works with them, it is not as direct as if he were a Prime Minister. The laws that the legislature wants to pass must first go through the president; he can sign them into being or he can veto them. The President can go to the legislative branch and suggest laws, but they ultimately write them for his approval.

Furthermore, in parliamentary systems, the legislature has the right to dismiss a Prime Minister at any time if they feel that he or she is not doing the job as well as expected. This is called a “motion of no confidence,” and is not as much of a drawn out process. In the US, impeachment is an extensive, formal process in which an official is accused of doing something illegal.

Some countries with a parliamentary system are constitutional monarchies, which still have a king and queen. A few examples of these are the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Japan.

It is important to remember that both of these systems of government are democracies. Ultimately, the citizens who vote have the voice.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: Wise Geek, Scholastic, How Stuff Works
Photo: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

 

parliamentary democracy government

Mining in Malawi: Understanding the Conflict
The relationship between the mining industry and the country of Malawi is burdened with complexity. Mining in Malawi promises substantial economic growth, yet it simultaneously has the potential to violate human rights and destroy the natural ecosystem.

Malawi profits through the mining industry, as the country is rich in economic deposits of uranium. Both Malawian granite and sandstone host uranium reserves, such as the Karoo sandstone in Karonga, Malawi.

The district of Karonga lies on the northwest side of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is one of the only freshwater lakes on the entire continent of Africa and is a key source of livelihood for over 1.5 million Malawians.

While clearly rich in resources, the country itself is impoverished. Due to this, the government has signed many agreements with extraction companies, hoping to increase exports.

Some national organizations are concerned about the mining industry’s effect on the precious and fragile ecosystem of Lake Malawi, yet the government has prioritized economic interests.

In 2007, a subsidiary of Paladin Energy took interest in Karonga due to a uranium deposit in the district. Due to the immense economic potential of the mine, called Kayelekera, the government agreed to let Paladin extract uranium in 2009. The government was issued 15 percent equity in the subsidiary.

As expected, the mine stimulated a crucial boost to the country’s foreign currency account. Over the following 10 years, the uranium industry overall is expected to raise Malawi’s GDP by 10 percent, account for 30 percent of exports and increase exports by 25 percent.

Due to company promises, many people in Malawi flocked to Karonga, hoping the uranium industry would generate employment, build clinics and increase general infrastructure in the new mining community.

Others, however, were not adequately informed that uranium mining was going to take place around their homes. None were aware that the Kayelekera mine would disrupt their entire way of life.

Reporters from Human Rights Watch conducted research for a year in Karonga, interviewing nearly 80 villagers who had been affected by uranium mining. They found that the general lack of government oversight and corporate responsibility harmed Malawians.

The construction of the Kayelekera mine caused villagers to be evicted from their homes. Many were only notified of the relocation at the last minute. Without any time to find other places to stay, these Malawians found themselves temporarily homeless.

While Paladin did offer compensation for the forced removal, the sum was insufficient to completely cover the cost of buying new land and building a new home. The company offered about MWK 50,000 to each family, which currently equates to about $70.

The uranium mining in Malawi damaged maize crops, dried rice fields and destroyed irrigation channels. As most of the villagers around Karonga live off of subsistence farming, threatened agriculture endangers survival.

Secrecy around the operations of the mine led to Malawian suspicion. When the people in Karonga asked the corporation to test the water for contamination, Paladin claimed to have a monitoring system in place. The company then refused to release any results. This lack of transparency has left many villagers concerned for their health.

As the laws surrounding mining in Malawi have not been updated since the Environmental Management Act of 1996, amendments are well overdue. In order to protect the interests of its citizens, the government of Malawi needs to strengthen regulations over extractive corporations, educate its people about the risks of mining, enforce institutional transparency and take measures to mitigate any damage.

The Kayelekera mine was closed in 2014 for repairs, yet the uranium industry in Malawi is just beginning. Moving forward, the Malawian government needs to enforce corporate responsibility on all companies who wish to extract natural resources from their country.

This conflict over mining in Malawi ignites fundamental questions over the delicate balance between economic development and social responsibility. With a more comprehensive legal framework, the government of Malawi may not have to choose one or the other. After further reform, the government can protect its people while simultaneously fostering social, institutional and economic development.

Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

The Resource Curse?
A strange correlation of natural resource-rich countries and human rights abuses has emerged over the past decade.

In 2001, Michael Ross discovered that the majority of states who are high oil-exporters also employ undemocratic policies.

An oil-rich state is classified by dividing total oil exports and by the total population of the country. To be considered a long-term oil-rich state, a country must produce over $100 per citizen for two-thirds of its sovereign years.

Ross found that oil-exporting states enjoy the “rentier effect”, which allows authoritarian regimes to use the revenue collected from oil sales to levy lower taxes. Consequently, the reduced taxes enable regimes to operate without accountability to its people.

The resource curse also has other negative consequences. According to Oil Change International, oil states employ a “repression effect”, which is the violation of human rights through the appropriation of land, forced migration and brutality on its citizens.

An example in which the resource caused human rights abuses is Nigeria. During the mid-1990s Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were executed for their roles in a successful campaign to remove Shell from the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Burma in the late 1990s also was a victim of the resource curse. The Burmese army and Unocal corporation were caught “clearing routes for the pipelines, including forced relocation, forced labor, rape, torture, and murder”. In 2005, Unocal offered conciliatory compensations to local villagers in lieu of a lawsuit engendered by Earthright International and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Beyond authoritarian rule and the oppression of its people, the resource curse is linked to internal conflict. The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) found that over the past 26 years, oil-rich states have been twice as likely to experience civil war compared to their non-oil-rich counterparts, using the example of oil-rich states the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Niger Delta, Iraq, Libya and Angola.

Similarly, the NRGI coined the term “petro-aggression” to define oil-rich states’ heightened likelihood to engage in an inter-state conflict such as Iraq’s invasion of Iran and Kuwait.

The resource curse also bears a direct relationship with the restriction of gender parity. Research has demonstrated that oil-rich states have fewer women in the workforce and government. Additionally, oil-rich states often have higher rates of HIV/AIDS, a consequence of the influx of male mine workers that travel from one oil-rich country to another.

An indirect consequence of the resource curse is the Dutch disease, which is the process of eliminating all non-oil industries. Consequently, states are dependent on a volatile market, undermining the stability of their economies.

The resource curse has incontrovertible and severe consequences. It is incumbent on democratic leaders to encourage good governance and a strict adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Additionally, democratic states must continue to encourage the diversification of oil economies through foreign assistance.

Adam George

Photo: Flickr

Botswana
Supported by the discovery of diamonds, poverty in Botswana has reduced while the country has achieved universal access to HIV treatment and strengthened their social services.

Botswana, a small landlocked country of 2 million people, was once one of the poorest countries in Africa. In 1996, the country was one of the least developed and poorest nations in the world with a per capita annual income of $83. In the years that followed, Botswana had one of the fastest growing economies in the world. By the 21st century, Botswana’s per capita annual income was $7,300. The success has come from Botswana’s partnership with De Beers, a diamond mining and trading company, which helped develop its diamond resources.

The diamonds of Botswana are very difficult to find. They are not sedimentary, rather they are found deep in the ground making them more valuable. The country shares joint-ownership, which guarantees Botswana the majority of the profits, with De Beers.

Due to low global demand for minerals and metals, Botswana’s economy began to decrease in 2012, but bounced back in 2013 and then decelerated again in 2014 and 2015; however, the economy is expected to rebound with projected economic growth rates of 3.7% and 4.3% respectively in 2016 and 2017, driven mainly by an improvement in diamond prices.

Once the money from diamonds starts coming in, all the revenues are reinvested in other assets. Priorities include investing in schools, roads, electricity and getting running water into homes and farms.

When the HIV/AIDS crisis came to Botswana, the country used its diamond money for public investment to essentially buy HIV/AIDS treatments for every citizen that was infected. Nearly 95 percent of the population now lives within 8km of a healthy facility.

Botswana’s discovery of the diamond has created more than 2,000 jobs and stabilized the economy. The percentage of people in poverty in Botswana continues to decrease, with a decline in citizens living at or below the poverty line from 50 percent to about 19 percent today.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Flickr