Delve releases standardized ASM survey tool to help stakeholders bridge data gaps

Professor Gavin Hilson interviews artisanal diamond miners in Akwatia, Ghana

An open-access survey tool, now available to download from Delve, has been collaboratively developed to help stakeholders collect standardized metrics on ASM populations and build a shared evidence-base for the sector.

Author: Professor Gavin Hilson

Demographically, the richness and diversity of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities cannot be overstated. Across the developing world, however, important decisions continue to be made about formalization strategies and support programs for the sector without a detailed understanding of, or much insight about, the composition, organizational structure and needs of ASM communities. Policymakers and donors need these data – from basic information on the ages of target populations, through to the more complex details about why individual operators choose to operate without a license – if they are to make more informed decisions about how to formalize the sector in ways which will have a lasting impact, developmentally.

In a bid to bridge this gap, a survey instrument was designed by researchers at the University of Surrey, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Mines and Technology (Ghana), the United Nations and the World Bank. The objective was to develop a standardized tool that could be used – and where necessary, adapted – to gather basic and detailed information about ASM populations across the developing world. An initial survey was conducted in Ghana, where 900 miners selected by the government to undertake environmental and health-related training at the University of Mines and Technology were asked to complete the survey. The data collected are currently being analyzed and will be made available on Delve for viewing. The intention is to collect complementary data, using the same survey instrument, from the 500+ miners who will attend the Forum sur le l'intégration du genre dans la gouvernance des ressourses naturelles in Bamako in Mali, 11-12 June. These data will also be analyzed and made available on the Delve platform.

It is hoped that this work will inspire other researchers to conduct parallel data-collection efforts worldwide. Making available a standardized adaptable survey instrument capable of retrieving the data needed by policymakers and donors to make informed decisions about formalization strategies and the contents of support programs for ASM will help to facilitate this enormous yet crucial undertaking.