Small-scale Mining and its impact on Rural Livelihoods and Health in Prestea, Ghana.
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- Master theses 
Background: This study explores small-scale gold mining and its impact on the livelihoods and health of miners and community members in Prestea, Ghana. Small-scale mining has served as a source of livelihood for many people in Ghana and Prestea is no exception. The activity is mostly operated on an informal basis, and most of its operations are illegal. Earlier studies on small-scale mining have mostly focused on its impacts on the environment and vegetation. The socio-economic factors that first prompt miners to engaging in the activity as well as its impacts on health and livelihood of people seldom feature in mining related research. Research objectives: The main objective of the study was to examine why people engage in small-scale mining and the extent to which small-scale mining have impacts on the health and livelihoods of miners and individuals in the Prestea mining community Data materials and methods: Drawing on a two months qualitative fieldwork in Prestea, this qualitative study used interviews and focus group discussions to gather data to answer the study’s overarching research questions. The 26 participants included small-scale miners, community members and stakeholder officials (people from the Lands Commission, Minerals Commission and the Prestea government hospital). Findings of the study: In this thesis, I show that a combination of factors (economic and social) operate together to explain why people decide to engage in small-scale mining. The research found that people engage in small-scale mining because of poverty, unemployment, it requiring less skills, no or less capital and equipment, destruction of farmlands, unproductive farmlands and loss of farmlands. In addition, the procedures, amount and time frame to be granted a mining concession discourages people and make them cut corners to mine illegally. Also, I show that most people in Prestea decide to engage in small-scale gold mining in order to get rich ‘overnight’. Small-scale mining has resulted in the improvement of standard of living of miners. However, it has had negative impact environmentally in terms of polluting water bodies, destroying vegetation and farmlands that serve as sources of livelihood for people. In addition, my study elucidates the health impact of small-scale mining in Prestea. Miners experience body pains, headache, injuries, eye problems, hearing problems, malaria, kidney and lungs problems and sometimes death whereas its impact on community members are reported to be malaria, cholera, diarrhea, skin related diseases and sometimes loss of lives. Using the social determinants of health framework, I show the socio-economic conditions that surround miners and community members in Prestea, which affect their livelihood, health and wellbeing. Conclusion: Using the social determinants of health framework, I show that several people in Prestea have created their own means of earning a livelihood even though most of their operations and activities are considered illegal. This have resulted in negative practices that have affected the livelihoods as well as the health and wellbeing of people in Prestea.