Title: Impact assessment of health infrastructure projects undertaken by Gold Fields Ghana Ltd. at its Damang and Tarkwa Sites in the Western Region of Ghana
Authors and Affiliations: Anthony K. Osei-Fosu1, Kwadwo Afriyie2, and Peter Dwumah3
1Department of Economics, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
2Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
3Department of Sociology and Social Work, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Abstract: Mining can impact local communities both positively and negatively. Some of the positive impacts include employment and community development projects. However, they do not off-set the potential negatives effects. The chemical cyanide used in the extraction of gold from ore is very toxic to humans and animals. When it enters the body, it suppresses the central nervous system causing respiratory failure and death. The cyanide can get into the soil, and through the process of erosion make its way into lakes and streams. This in turn can pollute local water supplies. In addition, there are health risks associated with breathing dust and other airborne contaminants in and around mines. To mitigate these apparent health effects, Gold Fields Ghana Ltd has undertaken health infrastructure projects in communities in its mining sites. It was therefore necessary to conduct an impact assessment of these health infrastructure projects on the communities. The study adopted the ‘before’ and ‘after’ methodology which was designed to quantitatively and qualitatively determine the project outputs and impacts in the communities. Structured questionnaires were used to collect data from a sample of 990 households. Other data collection techniques included focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Data from these surveys were validated with information from the local government and the District Health Directorates. In assessing the impacts of the projects, four criteria were adopted: appropriateness of projects; community involvement; project outputs and impacts; and project sustainability. There was a general consensus among stakeholders interviewed in the communities and at the district level that Gold Fields interventions were appropriate and reflect the felt needs of the beneficiary communities. They also reflect the policy objectives of the Municipal/District Assemblies and the central government Goals. Also, they had led to significant improvements in the provision of quality health services to the communities. This is reflected in increased access to healthcare, which has positively impacted the living conditions of residents in terms of a reduction in morbidity. However, sustainability of the infrastructure projects was found to be generally low due to the low level of participation by ordinary residents in decision making and implementation processes associated with the projects, which has resulted in low community ownership.