UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender differentiated impacts and benefits of artisanal mining : engendering pathways out of poverty. A case study of Katwe-Kabatooro Town Council, Uganda Hinton, Jennifer Jean


Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) is a crucial livelihood for over 20 million miners in developing countries throughout the world (Veiga and Baker, 2004). Despite misperceptions of “mining as men’s work”, ~40-50% of Africa’s artisanal miners are women who occupy critical roles in commercial, domestic and social spheres (Lahiri Dutt, 2003; Hinton et al, 2003a). The widespread poverty, environmental degradation and poor social conditions which characterize the ASM poverty cycle are largely attributed to its informal nature and use of crude technologies while its capacity to reduce poverty through increased incomes is also well recognized. Numerous policy reforms and interventions have been implemented accordingly with variable success. This research posits that ASM policy and action must further be informed by understanding of factors that determine livelihood outcomes through a gender lens. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to investigate the gender-differentiated constraints facing women and men miners compared to those in fishing, trading and other activities as well as the main assets or poverty reducing measures to which they have access. Based on a case study in the salt mining community of Katwe-Kabatooro Town Council in Western Uganda, it was found that women are clearly disadvantaged in most assets that comprise the foundation for sustainable livelihoods. Nevertheless, many women miners’ vulnerability has prompted them to “trade up” their assets of labour, cash and growing social capital through livelihood diversification, leading to improved socio-economic and health outcomes. While this suggests a clear pathway out of poverty, the majority of women miners often cope by using strategies that compromise their wellbeing, with far reaching implications for themselves and the community. Although a number of women have been able to overcome major constraints, gender inequalities were shown to play a prominent role in exacerbating the ASM poverty cycle. Findings point to women’s lack of autonomy and decision-making power as a root cause of negative outcomes for health and wellbeing of both women and men. If ASM policy and technical intervention increase emphasis on building human and social capital, more success can be achieved in realizing the poverty reduction potential of ASM.

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