Centre for Development Studies

Deepening governance and widening 'spaces' for change: community participation and natural resources transparency in post-conflict West Africa

Principle Investigator: Roy Maconachie

Research Team: There will be a post-doctoral researcher working alongside the PI for the duration of the project - yet to be appointed. 

Project Partners: Humanity United

Funding Body: Humanity United

Project Rationale and Aims:

This research seeks to deepen understanding of the main challenges associated with facilitating improved governance in small-scale mining communities, focusing specifically on the experiences of post-war Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone. 

In both countries, the informal and unregulated nature of the alluvial diamond sector played an instrumental role in driving and prolonging regional conflict, and it currently remains the root of much corruption and exploitation.  While minimal effort has yet been made to develop the intervention models needed to address this exploitation, or ‘empower’ unregistered miners and their families at the bottom of the supply chain, it has been argued that the formalization of small-scale mining and better governance at the local-level are the keys to making the sector more sustainable.

Through this project, two recent initiatives aimed at facilitating improved governance in the countries’ diamond sectors will be critically analysed: the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for rough diamonds and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).  With both initiatives, critics maintain, there has been little engagement with local stakeholders.  Consequently, their impact at the grassroots level has been negligible. In addressing this disconnect, the research will explore how more meaningful community-level participation can be facilitated in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where both governments are currently struggling to formalize their artisanal and small-scale diamond mining economies. In doing so, the research will improve understanding of the challenges for ‘deepening’ natural resource governance at the local-level and converting resource revenues into sustainable development outcomes, in the process drawing important lessons for other resource-rich African countries that are prone to conflict and fragility.

Project Outputs and Impact:

This project will contribute to on-going research  that aims to support in-country, regional and international efforts to restore peace and security, prevent atrocities and enable sustainable change. Indeed, the proposed research seeks to build upon, and add a new element to the partner organisation’s  ongoing portfolio of initiatives in fragile states. It will do this by advancing policy dialogue concerning governance in the small-scale mining sector in two post-conflict resource-rich countries, with the aim of generating wider lessons for natural resource management in other sub-Saharan African states that are prone to fragility and conflict.

In doing so, the long-term impacts we will be seeking to achieve will be twofold:

  1. To contribute towards a governance structure for artisanal and small-scale mining that reduces conflict and enhances sustainability in the negotiation of disparate stakeholder interests;
  2. To contribute towards the development and uptake of intervention methodologies for improving governance that can be employed in different contexts.

In the long term, the research should have key relevance to other conflict–ridden states where there is a need to improve the governance and transparency around natural resource management. At the heart of this work is the potential to benefit impoverished local populations and communities whose livelihoods and futures are dependent upon these resources, both in Africa and in other parts of the globe.

For more information about this project please contact:

Name: Dr Roy Maconachie
Title: Reader
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
Location: 3 East 3.28
E-mail: r.maconachie@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 384524