Watch the recording of this webinar to learn about legal and non-legal remedies to environmental justice cases and how best to work with and activate affected communities.
Environmental justice experts Bassey Bassey (@Bassyjnr), Nyaradzo Mutonhori (@Nyaradzo), Santosh Dora (@santoshdora), and Justus Tsofa (@Jtsofa) discussed their observations and insights from the exchange and how these will impact their future work with communities and environmental groups.
Background: In February 2018, the Global Legal Empowerment Network organized its first learning exchange focused on environmental justice. The exchange was hosted by Namati’s country program in Sierra Leone in conjunction with Namati’s Environmental Justice program in India, who both work with community paralegals to improve the enforcement of environmental laws and address issues like industrial pollution, conservation of fragile ecosystems, and securing the livelihoods of farmers, fisherpeople, and others whose lives are affected by environmental degradation. The learning exchange brought together 21 practitioners from 9 countries to discuss their work in detail and learn practical lessons from each other.
The lessons discussed throughout the exchange are applicable to environmental justice work across Africa and elsewhere, and we hope to share some of these insights with colleagues working on these important issues globally.
Hello, I particularly enjoyed the webinar and learned a lot of lessons from the experiences shared. We have been facing some huge difficulties in Cameroon’s mining regions. We have resorted to public petitions because local institutions (administrative and judicial) are not responsive calls for transparency.
don’t worry I did attend it’s just that I was muted for some reason but it was fab and very helpful, I have signed up to the campaign especially as right now I am facing violations of my justice from government departments despite reassurances that this will not happen, they then send it on to someone else who has a go at denying me justice.
Hi Bernard (@Ngalim) - its great to hear from you again! I hope you’ve been well. Those articles highlight the tragedy of companies failing to follow their legal obligations. We’ve also seen these types of issues in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Though the strength of laws guarding environmental justice will vary from country to country in Africa, we do know that the administrative or regulatory institutions are given that mandate to oversee project compliance with laws and regulations. Therefore the question for us is how to get these institutions to actually do their job. The approaches that @kanchikohli has outlined can do much to assist in this. What we’ve found in Kenya and Zimbabwe is that when affected people can clearly set out their complaints, reference specific laws and regulations - along with suggestions how these complaints could be solved - it helps to reduce seemingly massive, intractable issues to more specific solvable problems that fall directly within the control of the administrative groups. The process relies on empowered community members - and also a good deal of persistence. It will take some time but, in our experience, the results will come. In most instances, institutions will become more accountable when they know an active citizenry is aware of their role and responsibilities.
In terms of the issues you’ve shared - it might be important to actually conduct something like the ground truthing exercise across a number of mines in Cameroon in order to examine how many are actually adequately following regulations when closing mines. This type of comprehensive evidence could then be used to support your advocacy efforts with the administrative authorities - which might lead to other investigations, policy or the like.
Thank you for your reactions. It is always a pleasure learning from your experiences. I have gone through the experiences you have shared and they are quite rich. The experiences from Guinea could be be more helpful in this case because they administrative and judiciary setups are almost the same in Guinea and Cameroon.
Nevertheless, the minister of Mines recently suspended the operation licences of some companies after we took the advocacy viral on change.org. We shall integrate ideas from the approaches in our research, advocacy and strategies as we proceed. We have succeeded in setting up community watchdogs who collect the data and transmit same to us in real time. We shall concentrate more on empowering these communities on specific legal and regulatory frameworks. We have concentrated on empowering municipal authorities. We shall move one step forward. Currently, community watchdogs have received some education but not sufficient for them to draft the complaints themselves. They however, can identify environmental harm/crime and report to us in real time.
we should appreciate the role of recycling and involving EIA experts as well and environmental lawyers and Environmental justice experts to come up with the best forum and policies that enable the protection of the environmental. Global warming is real and we should appreciate how globalization and technological shifts are to help us achieve a clean environment
Hi sorry having taken time ,the korogocho dumping site is something illegal and since there people who benefit from it it has become serous health hazard and even security of people is worrying. It becomes big. every day. this is now a matter of public interest in Kenya. I’m working on photos and I will post as many as I can what I need is assistance