Launched in July 2003, the Durban Process began with a stakeholder workshop and the formation of the CSPD, a committee that represents the interests of those involved in the project. Two years later, four working groups were established, each focussing on a different aspect of the project: education; economic strengthening; conservation; and best practice in mining.
When educational activities were first launched, it became apparent that most of the miners were unaware that their actions were illegal. In light of this, the education working group has since been disseminating the mining code through leaflets, training and awareness-raising workshops, and has also been educating people on environmental issues and the need for conservation.
In 2008, the economic working group launched a small initiative to train women - the wives of miners - in livestock rearing and basic farming techniques, helping them to develop alternative livelihoods to mining. Goats and pigs were distributed to the women involved, along with seeds and agricultural tools, and they have started to generate income without relying on the national park.
The conservation working group was set up to reinforce ICCN’s capacity at the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, and they have so far implemented a range of activities including the training of rangers to protect the park, the running of park patrols and the equipping of patrol posts. A mission carried out in 2007 and 2008 helped to identify the miners and mining sites that are still active in the park, and will enable the Durban Process to work with those involved to put a stop to the illegal activities and provide them with alternatives.
While the activities of the three aforementioned working groups are vital to the success of the project, the overall focus has been on the implementation of ‘best practice’ mining in accordance with the mining code. The original plan to create a model mine to demonstrate ethical mining was not possible due to the lack of a suitable site, so as an alternative, a comprehensive training programme is instead being developed. Ethical mining workshops have now been delivered across a number of sites and committees that were established as a result of the training have joined together to form ACRAL (l’Association des Creuseurs Miniers Artisanaux de Lulingu), representing 98 miners. Eight of ACRAL’s members have undergone further training in ethical mining and are now extending this on to other members.
The CSPD is in the process of registering as a not-for-profit organisation, and further funding will reinforce project activities, ensuring that the Durban Process has a lasting impact and reaches its long-term objectives.