The September issue of EcoAméricas, a monthly report on development and the environment in Latin America, features an article about mining in Perú and the clashes between native communities, farmers and miners. Catholic Relief Services’ project on Natural Resource Use and Conflict Mitigation in Native Communities addresses these issues. Project coordinator Víctor Hugo Pachas spoke with reporter Barbara Fraser for the article Curbing Miners a Challenge in Madre de Dios:
Amid the concern over environmental impacts, critics often forget that mining provides a livelihood for thousands of people, many of them subsistence farmers who migrated to the gold fields in hopes of a better future, says Víctor Pachas, an anthropologist who has studied informal mining in Madre de Dios and other parts of the country. “There are always going to be miners there,” Pachas says of Madre de Dios. “The task is to mitigate the impact.”
A lasting solution, he says, would involve including mining in land-use plans; identifying the different characteristics and needs of miners in different areas of the corridor and developing technologies appropriate for each; and organizing the miners into associations by watershed, for easier oversight and more efficient access to markets.