Natural Resource Exploitation, Environment and Poverty; Linkages and Impact on Rural Households in Asutifi District in Ghana
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The controversial negative relationship between the abundance of natural resources and economic growth and development has been at the centre of several development research discourses. It is often explained that, natural resources when exploited can be used to generate economic growth and development. However, this assertion is often rebuffed by other explanations that, natural resource abundance rather create more difficulties than benefits. The abundance of oil, coal, gold and even trees have been the route cause of problems such as riots, wars, corruption, inflation, environmental degradation and reduced economic growth in many resource rich nations especially within Sub-Sahara Africa. Governments in developing countries with large amounts of resource have pursued policies that seek to expand the exploitation of existing natural resources to generate income for economic development. Over the years not much attention has been paid to the negative effects of policies that centre on the exploitation of natural as the main tool for economic growth and development. Natural resource exploitation has proven of potentially causing irreparable distortion on the environment and the livelihood of the people in the affected communities. This research attempts to make an investigation into the linkages between natural resource exploitation, environmental degradation and poverty, and the impact that natural resource exploitation has on the livelihood of rural households. Using Ghana’s gold mining sector as a case study, this research brings new evidence more precisely the area of Asutifi, on the linkages between mining, environmental degradation and poverty. Employing the Sustainable Livelihood Approach as an analytical tool, this demonstrates the negative relationship that exists between the abundance of natural resources and economic growth and development. This is done by assessing the impacts of natural resource exploitation on the rural households with help of the Sustainable Livelihood Framework showing examples of how the exploitation can lead to poverty. The first chapter of this paper is devoted for a general introduction to the phenomenon of natural resource exploitation and its linkages with environmental degradation and poverty. It also set out the problem to be investigated and outlines the objectives of the study. This is followed by the literature review chapter which reviews literature from the national and international mainstreams on themes such as; natural resource abundance and economic growth/development, resource exploitation, environmental degradation and poverty; natural resources and sustainable livelihood among other related mainstreams and theories. The third chapter of this study gives an overview of the extractive sector of Ghana’s economy and a brief description of the study area. It reviews the growth and expansion in Ghana’s mining industry and its contributions to the growth of the economy in general. The regulatory environment in the mining sector and the impact it has on the social and physical environment is also discussed here. iii The theoretical basis of this study is introduced in the fourth chapter. The chapter tries to explain the sustainable livelihood approach which was conceptualized by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This Approach is widely used in development research and thus was considered the most appropriate for analyzing the interface between natural resource exploitation and the creation of new poverty or poverty exacerbation The fifth chapter explains the methodological approach for this study. It also reviews some existing methodological approaches and discusses the choice of research methods for this study. It also explains the analysis procedures used and the process by which the data collection was conducted. This study’s findings are presented and discussed in the sixth chapter. In this chapter the study uses the sustainable livelihood framework, to assess to what extent mining has distorted the livelihood systems in the study area. It also uses some aspects of Mining- Induced Displacement and Resettlement Model. In the end, this all sums up to conclude, that the impacts of mineral resources exploitation on rural households in mining communities in the Asutifi District of Ghana have so far been negative, socially, economically, health-wise and environmentally. It recommends that government and all stakeholders in the mining sector should come together to device strategies on how to make mining operations contribute positively to community development rather than negatively. As the situation is today, evident support that natural resource exploitation is much more a case of poverty exacerbation than sustainable development.
Master's Thesis in Development Management - Agder University College, 2007
PublisherHøgskolen i Agder
Agder University College