Livelihood implications of artisanal gold mining in farming communities: insight from the Wa East District, Ghana

  • Issah Baddianaaha University for Development Studies
Keywords: Smallholder agriculture, artisanal mining, diversification, environmental effects, rural areas, sustainability


The impact of artisanal mining on livelihoods in developing countries is a contentious issue. As a contribution to this subject, the study assessed the implications of artisanal gold mining activities on smallholder agriculture in the Wa East District of Ghana. A descriptive survey design with a mixed methods research approach was used. Primary data were sourced from respondents through interviews, questionnaire administration, and field observation. Five artisanal mining communities were selected based on the intensity of mining activities in them. The study respondents consisted of 290 household heads drawn randomly from 1,050 households. Also, key informants consisting of 5 assembly members and 15 lead artisanal miners were interviewed. The study found artisanal mining to be a dominant livelihood strategy in the district, employing about 76.2% of respondents at various levels. Artisanal mining contribution to household income was higher than food crop farming. Proceeds from mining are used to finance smallholder agriculture. However, the activities of the miners have resulted in the degradation of farmlands. We argued that artisanal mining activities should be aligned with other livelihood options such as agriculture in local communities. The study called for the engagement of local miners and traditional rulers in mineral resource decision-making.