Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The forgotten voice in Aynak
By Javed Noorani
Afghan government fed its public with on the lease of Aynak Copper Mine, that they wanted money to run the state It has been 5 years since the contract was signed with the MCC during which media provided some coverage but mostly reflected only the voices of male from the affected communities. Integrity Watch Afghanistan following its work with the community visited 40 displaced families in one of the affected villages called Wali Baba Kaley on April 24th and met women to listen to their narratives and concerns.
Mostly illiterate and economically dependent women from the village were boiling in rage when we sat and asked them to tell us about the impact of the mining project on their lives. One of the women said that the Chinese took their lands, houses and mosques and the community did not get anything back”.The displaced people of Wali Baba Kaley are scattered after their land for confiscated for the mining project. Some who could have afforded to buy land did and those who could not had to move to rent places for themselves. The women complained that their life is now destroyed. They were forced to leave and are currently in a place where there is no access to drinking water and they have to walk miles to get water from the nearest water pump. Their kids are out of school because there is no school for kids in the new settlement and the other schools are too far from the area.
The women also said that they were promised by Government that their lives would improve and that they will get more facilities but their lot has worsened.“Ever since we came here we do not have access to water, no mosque and no cemetery. Today we even have to pay for the drinking water we get!” Observation of the new settlement by Integrity Watch team shows that people did not have access to water; clinics and schools were far off from the communities. The concern for the water was constantly echoed by all women in the gathering.
Members of the civil society operating in the area also highlighted their concerns and they flagged for attention before the problems became too serious. Yalda Sadat a civil society worker in Logar said that “The displaced people aremore vulnerablein their new set up.”
Members of the civil society working inLogaralso said that people of Aynak have been allotted plots to build their residence on. However, the displaced people said that they have not got any residential plots as fornow.
The issue of land compensation is still unresolved after four years besides people have lost access to water; schools and more man hours are spent getting water.
The project so far has not had any positive impact on the life of the local people. The government seems to have missed the voices of people displaced due to the project. The government cannot afford to delay a productive engagement with the people to address their concerns on time before people are further disillusioned.
Interview with a female from Wali Baba Kaley who sought not to be named for cultural reasons, April 24th 2013.
 Interview with another female from Wali Babakaley who did not want her name to be disclose April 24th 2013.
Interview with Yalda Sadat working with Logar civil society association, dated April 24th 2013.
Interview with Mullah Mirajan head of Wali Baba kaley, dated April 24th 2013.