The interface of environment and human wellbeing: Exploring the impacts of gold mining on food security in Ghana

Obodai, Jacob; Bhagwat, Shonil and Mohan, Giles (2024). The interface of environment and human wellbeing: Exploring the impacts of gold mining on food security in Ghana. Resources Policy, 91, article no. 104863.



This paper explores the intricate connections between the environment and human wellbeing, focusing on the interplay between mining, agriculture, and food security. Despite a vast body of literature examining the impact of mining on agriculture and subsequent implications for food security, there remains a notable gap in comprehensive studies evaluating these effects across all dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilisation, and stability. Particularly lacking are assessments regarding the food diversity of women of reproductive age in mining areas. Drawing from a survey involving 460 participants, alongside 85 face-to-face interviews, the study extensively investigates the complex relationship between small-scale mining, smallholder farming, and food security. It elucidates both the positive and negative aspects of this nexus, emphasising its influence on economic activities, market dynamics, employment opportunities, and income generation. However, the study also sheds light on adverse consequences, such as land dispossession, water pollution, and increased competition for labour. Utilising the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) survey, the research reveals alarming levels of food insecurity, with 50.1% experiencing moderate food insecurity and 13.3% facing severe food insecurity, surpassing the national average. This highlights a significant portion of the population enduring at least a day without adequate food, particularly impacting women with low dietary diversity scores. These findings underscore the intricate linkages between mining, smallholder farming, and individual well-being, concluding that while mining may stimulate local economies, it substantially undermines food security across its fundamental dimensions. Consequently, mining emerges as a substantial contributor to food insecurity and compromises the well-being of numerous individuals, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups, especially women.

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