Engagement with the community locally is formalised through the District Executive Committee (DEC) stakeholders’ meetings, which are used as a community information forum to address any stakeholder questions or concerns. Paladin used a DEC meeting in February 2014 to brief local stakeholders on the Company’s decision to suspend production at the Kayelekera Mine (KM) and to explain the background to this decision and likely impacts on the community.
Meetings are held with the Kayelekera village leadership and, on a more informal basis, with the Karonga District Commissioner, the Paramount Chief and traditional authorities and their advisors. These forums ensure open communication between local stakeholders and the Company. The Company also engages individually with NGOs in the region.
In addition to the local community, efforts are also made to liaise with other operating companies in the area to encourage their involvement in the local community such as facilitating food purchases from local growers in the area.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION AND HIV/AIDS AWARENESS
Paladin has a commitment to conduct regular HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and to promote good health and hygiene in order to improve the quality of life of local communities. Paladin continues to develop its “education-through-storybooks” project, with the publication of several new books each year.
The collection now comprises over 35 titles, covering a variety of community-focused subjects, and has been translated into a number of local languages. They continue to be a very effective communications medium and remain extremely popular, given the general lack of reading material in the district, particularly in local languages.
A further 21,350 books were distributed broadly through the community during the last year, covering KM employees, local schools and communities and government agencies, bringing the total number distributed to-date to 153,560.
HIV/AIDS awareness programmes continue through the medium of the Nyange Nyange drama group and distribution of related story books. Books are rare and precious in the region. It is not uncommon in rural areas for school children to be the only family members who are literate. As a result, local language books distributed by Paladin are frequently taken home and read to other family members, thus becoming a very effective means of communicating with the community at large. Quizzes and poster competitions are also popular among KM employees and their families.
Paladin continues to support the local Nyange Nyange drama group, which uses theatre in an effective and popular way to communicate key social messaging across the community. Through Paladin’s support, Nyange Nyange reached an audience of approximately 20,000 primary and secondary school children during the past year, presenting on health related topics. Funding also assisted the group to produce and distribute their second DVD.