Fairtrade gold in Uganda

11th May 2017

Fairtrade fortnight kicked off on Monday 27th February. Comic Relief have been funding Fairtrade organisations since the early 90s, working with farmers across Africa to produce Fairtrade coffee and cocoa, as well as other fairly traded products.

Since 2012, we have funded the Fairtrade Foundation to work with small gold mining organisations in East Africa to become better organised, more productive, and safer, improving the lives of the thousands of workers and their families. Small scale mining is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, and miners often work in remote and harsh conditions with little or no health and safety measures in place.

One organisation that Comic Relief funding has supported is Syanyonja Artisan Miners Alliance (SAMA). In 2016, SAMA became the first ever Fairtrade certified gold mine in Africa. Certification has been hard-won for the group’s 33 members, and it has led to improvements in health and safety and mining practice which are already proving transformational.

SAMA’s achievement in just four years, formal registration with the local government, offers hope to the community. They are able to teach others in the area how to mine more safely and once the export supply chain has been established, they’ll be able to sell to the 14 Fairtrade global gold markets for a better price. They’ll receive a Fairtrade Premium which they will be able to invest in projects to help their community, such as supporting the local health centre.

SAMA’s accomplishment is all the more remarkable given the levels of poverty in the region. Many miners in non-Fairtrade certified mines, earn as little as 50 pence a day digging pits in the fragile soil in the hope of striking lucky. Fairtrade miner Simon Wabwire tells me: “We have been mining a long time and we have felt exploited. The middle men are buying the gold at almost half what the global gold market is. This is gold that we have sweated blood to get out of the ground. But under Fairtrade, we will sell at a good price.”

Comic Relief is now funding the Fairtrade Foundation to help create a supply of Fairtrade gold through nine mining organisations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

To find out more about the Fairtrade Foundation and how to get involved with Fairtrade fortnight, visit fairtrade.org.uk(opens in new window).