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Community:
Health, Education & Livelihoods

Overview

Our operational sites are based in remote locations, surrounded by small, rural communities.

We work collaboratively with these communities to develop and fund projects that will deliver long-term benefits for local people in health, education and livelihoods.

We build schools, provide health clinics and establish farming cooperatives, including women’s chicken farms, to empower and provide independence for local women.

We are careful to ensure that the projects we support are those that, once established, the community and local government will be able to sustain and develop on their own into the future. We think it is important that communities have ownership of their means of income-generation, independent of the company.

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Process of Implementation

Gemfields’ community liaison team speaks with communities to develop project ideas based on what has been requested, and then presents these to the relevant government authorities for approval.

The process undertaken then depends on the project in hand.

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Health

Addressing health issues in the developing world is a serious challenge. The prevalence of chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDs and malaria can destroy communities.

We are proud of our track record in improving access to basic health services in the remote areas in which we operate. We recognise that in more remote locations, the state cannot always provide the services, transport and reliable infrastructure to give people access to healthcare. Our primary focus is on improving healthcare infrastructure, outreach and education, either through rehabilitating existing clinics or building new ones with the support of local government. We have also launched innovative services, such as mobile health clinics and an ambulance, which are effective at reaching parts of the community that are too far from static medical facilities.

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Health projects undertaken to date include:

Education

We operate in countries that have exceptionally low levels of basic literacy and numeracy. Provision of education to children is fundamental to development, but many children leave school because of the distances that need to be travelled, the quality of the teaching, the lack of infrastructure and the cost of attendance.

Livelihoods

A focus on livelihood development means that Gemfields funds activity that can support sustainable economic development in the community. This could be any project generating sustainable income.

In the areas in which we operate, communities tend to lack steady income to take them out of poverty. In remote areas, subsistence farming is the norm, but this is unsustainable in the long term, as farmers are only able to provide food for themselves and sell what little is left in a piecemeal way. Our approach is to invest in high-impact livelihood projects, in particular farming associations that produce year-round food crops and rear animals as a form of income.

In both Zambia and Mozambique, we have been instrumental in setting up farming associations that are recognised legally in each country and have basic governance, ensuring that all members that participate will share in the benefits.

After a period of investment and educational support, we hand over full ownership of each project to the community. While we continue to provide help should they need it, the intention is that the community should recognise the long-term benefit of the project and manage it themselves. We are particularly conscious of the importance of economic inclusion and actively seek out ways to cooperate with women’s and youth groups.

In addition, the mining operations are an immediate customer for locally grown produce – whether its vegetables or chickens – and we negotiate a fair market price for any produce sold.

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Projects to date include:

  • Establishing nine farming associations in Mozambique, which benefit more than 400 local farmers through skills training, improved seeds, pesticides and agricultural equipment, improving yield by 200%. Two of these are chicken-production projects, providing a source of regular income for women, which has produced 35,000 chickens since it began in 2016;
  • Providing one tractor and agricultural implements to assist local communities in Mozambique with agricultural production;
  • Providing support for agricultural projects at the Blessing, Kapila Green Farms, Twende and Twasanta projects in Zambia, including distribution of farming inputs;
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Ad-hoc Projects

In 2017, our Mozambican mine was honoured for having the ‘Best Social Responsibility Practices’ by the Government of Cabo Delgado. In addition to the above, we have undertaken ad-hoc projects in Zambia and Mozambique, such as:

Results

Gemfields has provided education for children that didn’t previously have it, health initiatives have enhanced life expectancy and livelihood development has created year-round income for families that wouldn’t otherwise be able to generate this.