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Title: Livelihood diversification and poverty alleviation : what role can artisanal and small scale mining play in rural Malawi?
Author: Kamlongera, Paul Justice
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis reflects critically on how a formalized and supported artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities - low tech, labour-intensive mining excavation and processing - can alleviate poverty and facilitate local economic development in rural Malawi. As is the case throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in Malawi, to date, there has been strong emphasis on a 'small farm first' approach to poverty alleviation, despite mounting evidence of its limited impact. The situation is particularly important at present: although farm productivity has diminished considerably in the country in recent years, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to subsist off of its activities alone, support for agriculture continues to be the centrepiece of the country's rural development and poverty alleviation strategy. The inability of agriculture to fulfil this role has induced many thousands of the country's rural Malawian families to ' branch out' into the nonfarm economy - dynamics which the country's policy-makers have yet to recognise. In line with the livelihood diversification trend that has emerged throughout most of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and sub-Saharan Africa more generally, in Malawi, movement into ASM has become one of the most important avenues followed, providing much-needed economic relief for many rural households. In Malawi, which, despite being perceived as a non-extractives economy by both government and donor officials, and therefore lacking the policies and programmes to readily-ignite the sector's expansion, the available evidence also points to ASM having become a rooted livelihood activity for many subsistence people across the country. Integrating the sector into development plans, however, will require sweeping change because its activities are largely unsupported, monitored by government and for the most part, carried out illegally - direct outcomes of the low priority the sector receives at the policy level. What role does ASM now play in the livelihoods of rural Malawians, and can it be readily showcased in the country's economic development plans, which again, are very much built around the idea of a supported smallholder economy alleviating hardship? Focusing on the cases of artisanal gemstone and limestone extraction, the thesis aims to broaden understanding of the challenges and merits of developing a more formalised and supported ASM sector in Malawi, as well as the efficacy of promoting it - against the background of the current policy stance - as a new avenue for poverty alleviation in the country. Drawing on documentary analysis and feedback from interviews, the thesis surveys the perspectives of the country's key stakeholders at both the policy and grassroots levels, including government, donor and NGO officials, farmers and miners themselves. Findings provide important insight into how ASM currently contributes to rural livelihoods, and its emerging linkages with agriculture and other nonfarm activities, in the country. From this analysis, critical reflections are provided on whether giving greater priority to the sector's development and in poverty alleviation policies is a realistic option at this point in Malawi.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available