Uganda is rich in natural resources and has a favourable geological environment that hosts over 27 different minerals including gold, tin, iron ore, sand, limestone, marble, stone aggregate, phosphate, dimension stone, clay, oil and natural gas among others. Mining offers a significant opportunity for the country; particularly as a source of revenue, employment, economic lifeline for industries and a way of contributing to social and economic development. Nationally the mining industry is a key to attaining ‘Vision 2040’7 and the National Development Plan II (2015/16 –2019/20).
Growth and development of the mining sector is guided by the Mining and Minerals Policy 2001, Mining Act 2003 and Mining regulations of 2004, which are now out of date. Government of Uganda is with the support of development partners including UNDP reviewing the policy and legal institutional framework of the mining sector.
Over the last two decades, Uganda has experienced an infrastructure boom and rapid urbanisation drive by the demand for construction materials, dimension stones, industrial minerals and semi-precious stones – Development Minerals. Often referred to as Low Value Minerals and Materials (LVMM) due to their low price as a function of their weight and their relatively low value to international commodity markets, development minerals provide crucial inputs for domestic economic development and have the potential to boost development through employment creation at the local level for millions of people.
The construction industry contributes over 12% of Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP) and conservative estimates indicate that more than 1 million people in Uganda are engaged in this sector, with women making up more than 25% of the work force. Uganda’s strong economic growth, infrastructure boom and rapid urbanisation over the last two decades are driving the demand for construction materials (such as gravel and sand), dimension stones (such as marble and granite), industrial minerals (such as bentonite and talc) and semi-precious stones (such as garnet and amethyst). These are all referred to as Development Minerals which are minerals and materials that are mined, processed, manufactured and consumed domestically in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. Development Minerals are economically important close to the location where the commodity is mined and have the potential to boost development through employment creation at the local level for millions of people.
While a significant number of women derive their livelihood from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), little is known about the socio-economic, including gender dimensions of ASM and its potential.
to support or hinder women’s economic empowerment. Policies aimed at legalization and regularization are thus unfolding without sufficient analysis of how women, and the barriers they face in ASM, will be impacted.
There is also demonstrable limited technical and operational capacity within the institutional framework to effectively implement gender mainstreaming interventions – a factor that exacerbated the income disparities between men and women; and undermined socio-economic transformation in the Development Minerals sector. Also, the informal nature of most quarry operations has augmented the vulnerabilities uniquely experienced by women especially regarding access to and control over economic resources such as capital, technologies and bargaining power as well as socio-cultural restrictions that impede their ability to exercise their voice and agency in the sector.
More so, despite having a strong presence at artisanal sites, there are much fewer women than men in decision-making and leadership positions at ASM sites, points of sale and SMEs. This reality has largely undermined the potential for optimal benefit from the sector and compounded the socio-economic constraints that have led to gender-related barriers to poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development.
UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is implementing the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme. The three-year USD 950, 000 capacity building programme aims to build the profile, and improve the management of Development Minerals (industrial minerals; construction materials; dimension stones; and semi-precious stones) as well as contribute to addressing gender inequalities. The programme is part of a €13.1 million initiative by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, financed by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to strengthen the capacity of key stakeholders in 40 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.