‘White gold’, distress and anger
Big salt mining companies mostly multinationals have overrun the Keta Lagoon Basin, in South
Eastern Ghana, in search of ‘white gold’, driving the artisanal and small scale traditional salt
miners out of their livelihoods, communal heritage and resource, the lagoon, where they fish
and mine salt, writes *Cornelius Adedze.
Yawovi, looks forlorn and deject-ed as she recounts the tragedy that has befallen her, her family and the rural community that for centuries have lived on the banks of the Keta Lagoon. The childhood and adult joy and satisfaction of fishing in the lagoon during the rainy season and mining salt during the dry season is gone.
“My father, my mother and my grandfather, my grandmother before them, all earned their keep by fishing in these waters and mining salt when the waters run dry. I continued the tradition. We woke up one day and saw strangers with all kinds of machines on our land and water. We accosted them and they said government had given them the source of our livelihood”.
Next thing they knew. They had be-come trespassers in a communal resource and heritage they had called theirs for centuries. No fishing, no salt mining.
Since 2011, 20,000 acres around the Keta Lagoon have been given out as con-cession to three large scale salt companies, leaving the local artisanal and small scale miners in the lurch. Seven more companies have applied to be granted concessions in the same area. So far communities like Adina, Kpedzakope, Task Corner, Sonuto, Dogbekope and Blekusu among others all in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta Region, with populations in the tens of thousands are bearing the brunt of the takeover of their communal resource which has cost them their livelihoods.