The mining sites in Mandena, in the Anosy region of Madagascar, are often a source of land disputes between local land occupants and QMM, a subsidiary of the international mining company Rio Tinto. Since November 2013, we have been working in the area to promote the peaceful settlement of these conflicts, developing a strong relationship with the community agents of QMM and local NGOs.
To consolidate this collaboration and involve new players, we launched a new, three-year project in partnership with QMM in June 2016. The aim of this initiative is to improve communication, dialogue, and trust within villages around QMM sites, and between communities, QMM, and the local authorities.
Our interventions are divided into three stages. The first focuses on strengthening the capacity of participants in negotiating and resolving conflicts; the second aims at creating open and constructive communication between them; the third focuses on public discussion and dialogue sessions aimed at finding shared solutions to the land disputes.
We are also focusing on working with local media actors, promoting responsible journalism, dissipating dangerous rumors, and providing access to unbiased information about the mining sites to local communities. One of the key tools of the project is our well-known radio talk show Tokotany Iraisana (“common ground” in Malagasy), co-produced with local radio stations, which provides a dialogue platform and increases access to credible information for the population.
The baseline report of the project contains an analysis of conflicts around the zones impacted by mining extraction; an analysis of the dynamics between the different groups; an assessment of the capacities of the actors in conflict-sensitive, constructive negotiation and communication; a mapping of the flow of information on mining governance; and an analysis of the natural resource management system. The most recurrent conflicts identified in the two zones around the mine are land conflicts at Mandena and conflicts related to management of natural resources at Ambato Atsinanana. The risk factors identified in the report include the lack of transparency and trust among the associations of local occupants; the lack of information on the negotiations with the mine representatives and on calculations of land value; slow or insufficient follow-up on promises made by QMM; and a perception of unequal financial compensation for the community, which is accompanied by rumours of nepotism and favoritism.
The land tenure negotiation process has recently been finalized, meaning that financial compensations by QMM are now being paid to the land occupants. This is a particularly sensitive period, and Search will continue assisting QMM and the local communities in this process.
QMM is also financially supporting development initiatives by local associations. In 2017, we will strengthen our support of these associations (especially regarding the management of funds), organize the first town hall meetings, and work with QMM to improve the way they deal with complaints.