LAND ENCROACHMENT AT JUASO, NWOASE, AND DONKRO NKWANTA.
Advocates for Community Alternatives(ACA) partner communities in Ghana are facing land challenges by powerful actors such as mining companies and traditional authorities. They are, however, mounting a courageous resistance to the land challenge using a number of strategies.
Kibi Goldfields Ltd. (KGL) operates a gold mine in the Juaso community in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
BSD, a subsidiary of Kibi Goldfields, has mined 2 feet away from the stream which is identified to be a buffer zone and against the law. In March 2021, the natives in the community noticed that Kibi Goldfields had intentions of carrying out their mining activities in the stream which is their source of water for domestic use.
The community, realizing that mining in a watercourse could affect their health, decided to protest against the company.They gathered at the company premises clothed in red attires to show their displeasure and make their voices heard. This forced the company to withdraw from the illegal project.
Just a month after ceasing operations in the stream, Kibi Goldfields entered another part of the community, popularly referred to as “Old Cemetery,” and cleared approximately 17.5 acres of farmland to extend their mining activities. Once again, their activities were illegal because they failed to seek permission from the landowners
The natives of Kibi, reported to the District Chief Executive (DCE) and the District Police Commander and made their grievances known to them. The DCE intervened, and the company ceased its operations in the Old Cemetery area.
In April 2021, KGL extended operations to another piece of land at the outskirts of the community. Unfortunately, they also chose to clear roads through the villagers’ cocoa plantations to access their new mining site. In constructing the roads, some cocoa trees were destroyed without prior notice or compensation to the farm owners. Instead,the company only reached out to the community to call them for negotiations over compensation after cutting the trees. This is a clear violation of Regulation 14 of the Minerals and Mining (Compensation And Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175).
Offspring of settlers from the northern region of Ghana have been living peacefully and farming for years alongside the indigenous population in the village of Nwaose, in the Bono East Region. The Nwoase’s traditional chief,Atekoanohene, has however, upset both settlers and indigenes, for which he sold nearly all the village’s farmland to outsiders. The villagers are losing their lands in which they have cultivated household crops and watermelons(main source of income) to another traditional ruler. Their cashew plantation lands have also been sold off to a group of soldiers.
Even though the chief’s unethical actions affected both settlers and indigenes, the settlers, also tenant farmers, are hurt deeply as they have nowhere else to go. This is because they did not keep ties with their ancestors’ original communities, and have always carried out their duties to the Atekoanohene as subjects of the stool.
This is not the first time that the Atekoahene has placed his own financial gain over the good of the residents of Nwoase. In past years, he has demanded tribute of goats for the privilege of continuing to farm the land or even for rearing animals within the village. He extorts hundreds of cedis from residents before allowing them to bury their deceased on village land and forbids them from growing crops with germination periods of longer than three months. Earlier this year, the chief struck back against the farmers’ decision to continue farming their land. Announcing that he would “replace the people with cattle,” he signed a deal with local ‘Fulani’ herders, inviting them to bring cows to graze on community farmland and even within the confines of the village itself.
The people believe their chief is engaging in human right violations by depriving them of their right to livelihood, as well as violating his constitutional duties to administer the land for the benefit of the subjects of the stool.
Most recently, the land caretaker, who sold land to the soldiers, cut down cashew trees on another piece of land and replanted new cashews. The community has complained to Ghana’s Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice and is awaiting the Commission’s recommendations.
The community of Donkro Nkwanta is located in the Nkoranza South District of the Bono East Region, adjacent to Nwoase. About ten years ago, the people of Donkro Nkwanta successfully led a coalition of three other neighboring communities to reject the expansion of industrial gold extraction by U.S. mining giant Newmont. The residents remain united against any form of mining in the future.
This resolution, however, is now being tested, as the Nkoranzahemaa, the Queen Mother currently exercising traditional authority over the Nkoranza Paramount Chieftancy, has sold land belonging to Donkro Nkwanta to AnnG Farms, purportedly for the cultivation of cash crops. Although the people and king of Donkro Nkwanta have protested strongly, AnnG has already destroyed several acres of cashew trees belonging to community farmers.
Community members, fearing that the land will actually be used for mining, have taken their concerns to the Nkoranza South Municipal Security Committee, which recommended that the Donkro Nkwanta land be returned to its original owners. The community continues to stand firm with their king to insist that their right to land ownership should be respected.