The Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (USAID AMPR) project supports the USAID Land and Urban Office in improving land and resource governance and strengthening property rights for all members of society, especially women. It serves as USAID’s vehicle for addressing complex land and resource issues around artisanal and small-scale mining in a multidisciplinary fashion with a focus primarily on diamond and secondarily on gold production in the Central African Republic (CAR), as well as targeted technical assistance to other USAID missions and operating units in addressing land and resource governance issues within the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. The project builds upon activities and lessons from the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD I and II) projects. The USAID AMPR contract was signed on September 28th, 2018 and will run initially for three base years and with two optional years. Most project activities will be carried out in the Central African Republic.
The U.N. Security Council has repeatedly emphasized the need for the Government of the Central African Republic (GoCAR) to combat illicit exports of gold and diamonds to achieve peace and stability. The Artisanal Mining (ASM) sector supports the livelihood of many Central African miners and families but is threatened by armed group predation entrenched in illicit mineral exploitation and trade. Successive coups have been linked to diamond exploitation and trade with ex-Seleka groups in the east, while the gold sector provides revenues for criminal, anti-Balaka groups and ex-Seleka forces in CAR’s west and center.
Objective 3 of USAID AMPR is focused on Increasing Awareness and Understanding of the Opportunities and Challenges of Establishing Gold Supply Chains. Under Objective 3, the project is working with two sub-contractors IPIS and RESOLVE to increase awareness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of establishing responsible gold supply chains in the Central African Republic. This includes a baseline assessment – or diagnostic – of CAR’s gold sector and an interactive online map of artisanal gold mining sites. USAID AMPR will also organize a workshop to present results from the study and facilitate training and discussion aimed at moving towards a national gold action plan.
Focusing on in-country dynamics around the gold economy, a mine site questionnaire was developed by IPIS to collect data on gold mine site locations and geology; production, pricing and trade dynamics; ownership and licensing; gold exports and trade; community resource governance and social cohesion; roles and constraints of men, women, and youth; and the role(s) of the Ministry of Mines and Geology (MMG) and mining cooperatives.
This report provides an overview of the gold questionnaire developed under AMPR’s Objective 3. The results of the questionnaire will be used to complete a full diagnostic study and interactive web map of CAR’s gold sector and support the development of an Action Plan in close collaboration with national stakeholders, donors and AMPR staff. The Action Plan is intended to provide recommendations regarding: 1) the formalization of the gold sector, 2) Ensuring tax collection from legal exports and 3) Developing traceability requirements based on international conventions and best practices. The Action Plan will also consider alignment or gaps with international expectations, especially: 1) systems to enable due diligence meeting international market and stakeholder expectations, and 2) conditions for CAR gold producers/traders/exporters for engagement with the legitimate, international buyers.
The methodology used for the drafting and deployment of the AMPR gold questionnaire was participatory in nature involving feedback from numerous stakeholders and experts, and included several stages, which are outlined below:
Preliminary questionnaire drafted and feedback requested (January – February 2019)
Drawing on a review of recent studies on the artisanal mining sector in CAR and data previously collected by the USAID PRADD II and AMPR projects around diamond and gold mining sites and supply chains, a draft questionnaire and data analysis plan was prepared. The data analysis plan outlined what data would be needed, from what sites, and how it would be collected, analyzed and visualized. This in turn was used to prepare a draft questionnaire, which was shared with AMPR staff, the subcontractor RESOLVE and USAID for comment. The feedback processed elicited several questions, and comments, which are addressed below:
The questionnaire is designed to be administered by “site”, and not to individual miners. As such, the questionnaire provides a set of questions guiding investigations by a field researchers about a particular gold mining site. The results are intended to generate an overview of individual mine sites and will also be extrapolated and analyzed across sites to discern trends and patterns.
The IPIS site questionnaire will also be administered in all the locations where the AMPR team will administer the KAP Survey. In this manner, all of the diamond mining sites reached by the AMPR team will be incorporated into the map and data base being developed by IPIS under the gold mapping initiative.
Questions related to perceptions about land tenure were deliberately excluded from the questionnaire as experience has shown it would be very difficult to get an overall perception that would be truly representative of the situation on the site and perceptions about tenure will be addressed in the KAP surveys being undertaken by AMPR.
The physical presence of armed actors will be monitored by the enumerator based on observation and discussions with various stakeholders. As such the researchers hope to limit confusions between gendarmerie, regular army or UN peacekeepers. Since the questionnaire is also designed to be simple and short, rather like a guidebook for the enumerator. As a result, information may be picked up of predatory behavior of government authorities. The questionnaire has been reviewed by technical staff of the Ministry of Mines and Geology, and for that, the AMPR team is grateful.
Capturing the complex financial linkages that support illicit gold mining from site to export is challenging and the questionnaire is not designed to capture in depth data about financial flows. However, data about where miners and chefs de chantiers perceive their support is coming from (and the type of support they are receiving either monetary and in-kind) is valuable. Given the extensive network of financing that reaches the mining site (including financing by armed groups), there a risk the respondent will note the most more immediate financier and not address more distant but important financiers of the illicit trade. This risk will be monitored during data collection and will be discussed in the mid-project enumerators follow-up workshop (early June), and in the qualitative study on gold chains. If necessary, the questionnaire will be adapted to elucidate additional information about more distant forms of financing. It should be recognized that respondents may not know, or even feel secure, providing this information. As such, during the follow up workshop attention will be given to structuring questions to inquire about distant sources of financing while at the same time identifying processes to protect sources and the information provided.
On the issue of how informal taxes are levied at gold sites, it is difficult to anticipate all the possible options that may be currently in use without adding more questions – however the team has the opportunity to record any additional information in a comment box available at the end of each chapter of the questionnaire.
It was noted that certain information in the questionnaire is sensitive and respondents may be reluctant, for example, to discuss the presence of child labor or prostitution on a mine site. Based on IPIS’ previous experience, enumerators collect this information from a range of sources including miners but also from direct observation and discussions with local community members around the site (local NGOs, chef de village, church leaders, etc.). The triangulation of data sources also strengthens data validity.
On the issue of date sharing, a question was raised during reviews of the draft questionnaires regarding whether the data gathered would be made available to the DELVE platform. DELVE is a repository website aggregating information and data about the artisanal mining sector from numerous sources. While the platform is still in beta phase, IPIS is a DELVE partner and IPIS open data – including that which is collected with this questionnaire – could be shared noting that sensitive information (such as any names, comment boxes, etc.) would be filtered.
Finally, questions about consent in the administration of the questionnaire – including taking pictures at mine sites – were raised. The issue of consent is addressed in the training phase during which numerators are instructed to obtain consent before administrating the questionnaire or taking pictures; not to take pictures of children, and when possible to take pictures from a distance when possible to protect individual identities.
Methodology Review Workshop (22 February to 1 March)
The second step of developing the questionnaire involved a second trip to Bangui in late February, where IPIS completed the following tasks:
- Finalized mine site questionnaire, inclusive of feedback from AMPR staff, the World Bank, and the KP Secretariat. The questionnaire was then coded into an Excel spreadsheet and the final version of the questionnaire was posted online (on the Kobo platform) on March 28.
- Drafted Terms of Reference for Artisanal Gold Sector Diagnostic Study and agreed on target areas for field research
A key decision made was that IPIS and AMPR staff will conduct the same questionnaire at the mining site level and would therefore focus on different geographic areas in order to maximize the number of sites surveyed. Also, a distinction was made between mapping of sites, registration of production and individual workers and the development of a mining cadastral. Each of these are three different domains with different methodologies.
- The sites covered by the IPIS teams include: Nana-Mambéré (Baboua, Baoro, Bouar, Abba); Ombella-M’Poko (Boali, Damara, Yaloke, Bossembelé); Ouham (Bouca, Bossangoa); Ouham-Pendé (Bocaranga, Bozoum); and Lobaye (Mbaiki).
- Areas to be covered by AMPR teams include: Lobaye (Boda, Boganagone, Boganda); Sangha-Mbaéré (Nola, Bayanga); and Mambéré-Kadeï (Amada-Gaza, Berberati, Carnot, Dédé-Makouba, Gamboula, Gadzi, Sosso-Nakombo)
- Recruited of IPIS Field Coordinator. Jean-François Thalo, former PRADD I employee with a strong experience in managing field teams was recruited as the lead field coordinator. He will work for IPIS on a six-month contract, based in the AMPR office in Bangui.
- Finalized job descriptions finalized for MMG and Civil Society researchers. By incorporating ministry officials and civil society representatives in data collection missions, AMPR aims to strengthen local capacity, build trust and linkages between government officials and civil society and create greater local ownership in the final research product.
Recruitment and Training Workshop in Bangui (22-29 march March)
The third step included an open recruitment process to identify and recruit the field researchers (aka enumerators). In total, ten enumerators (including three women) were recruited and were organized into five research teams of two enumerators each. Each team will be composed of one MMG staff and one representative from civil society.
After the recruitment a four-day joint training was organized by IPIS and the AMPR project. The training focused on how to administer the survey to members from civil society organizations, and was designed around eight modules:
- Presentation of the AMPR project and IPIS component of mapping artisanal sites in western CAR
- Participative approach to site identification with local communities
- Research objectives through a detailed discussion of the questionnaire
- Field research methodology and practical advises
- Mobile data collection with ‘ODK Collect’ mobile application
- Security analysis and discussion on standard operating procedures and contingency plans
- Use of InReach satellite communicators on the field
- Increasing knowledge of the artisanal gold mining sector
After the training the questionnaire was tested by the enumerators. Results indicated the completion of the questionnaire required approximately 45 minutes to complete. This is congruent with other mine site questionnaires deployed by IPIS in in Eastern DRC. Although the actual time to fill the questionnaire might be shorter or longer depending on the skip logic questions, it is important to note the questionnaires provide a baseline survey and are not a monitoring tool (for example to provide monthly situational updates at each site).