They come to Manyama in a slow but steady trickle from across Zambia. Some arrive by bus, others in cars that have seen better days. Some tote duffle bags that contain everything they own. Others turn up with just the clothes on their backs. For all, it is a one-way journey; an attempt to build a better life in Manyama, a small town located next to Barrick’s Lumwana mine in northwest Zambia.
Between 2006 and 2012, the population of Manyama surged from 5,000 to 25,000. It is expected to grow at a similar rate for the next five to 10 years, as Lumwana, which Barrick acquired last year, draws job seekers, contractors and a host of entrepreneurs hoping to benefit from the presence of the mine.
Project-induced in-migration is a common phenomenon that occurs when a mine opens in remote and relatively undeveloped regions. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, the population near Barrick’s Porgera mine has grown from several thousand in the mid-1980s when the mine was constructed to about 50,000 today. “We know that in-migration happens around mines,” says Richard Savage, regional manager, corporate social responsibility. “And it’s absolutely imperative for mining companies to look beyond their fence lines to help manage that in-migration footprint, because what happens outside the fence will eventually affect what happens inside.”
The rapid pace of in-migration is changing the face of Manyama, and nowhere is this more evident than the commercial market in the center of town. Once little more than a small supply depot, the market is now a dense thicket of kiosks that continues to expand along the T5 highway, Manyama’s main thoroughfare. Clothing stores, food and grocery outlets, electronics vendors, car-repair shops, hair salons and a money-lending operation are just some of the businesses that have set up in the area. At peak hours, a stream of buses enters the area to pick up or drop off workers from Lumwana.
Not far from the market, dozens of small, adobe brick houses with corrugated roofs spring into view. They are rental homes built under the auspices of the local chiefdom to accommodate the in-flux of new arrivals. “On one level, it’s fantastic,” says Rob Gerrits, an expert on in-migration who is serving as a senior advisor to Barrick. “By building houses and setting up new enterprises, the people — newcomers and long-time residents alike — are taking advantage of the opportunity presented by in-migration.”
At the same time, Gerrits adds, in-migration can trigger serious social and environmental problems. Increased rates of deforestation, local-level pollution and lack of adequate water and sanitation are among the environmental impacts common to areas experiencing high levels of in-migration. Declining law and order and increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, are commonly observed social impacts. Manyama is not immune from these impacts, Gerrits says, noting the development of a local nightlife catering to Lumwana’s primarily male work force.
The speed and concentration of development in central Manyama have led to increased traffic and congestion with potential implications for safety and security. In addition, as the commercial market expands northwards, it is approaching the southern boundary of the Lumwana operation, raising security concerns and potentially complicating future expansion plans.
To the south side of the T5, the commercial market is encroaching onto the grounds of the town’s main school, the Manyama Basic School, bringing students into close proximity to the crowds, traffic and daily activities of the market. At the same time, the school is coping with its own in-migration-related issues, including overcrowding and a severe teacher shortage. Space is so limited that some classes are held outdoors or in nearby buildings.
To help mitigate the adverse impacts of in-migration and amplify the potential benefits, Lumwana has drafted an influx management plan. The objective is not to stop in-migration, but to promote “managed change” so that the community is not overwhelmed by the rapid changes caused by in-migration. Key to the plan’s success, Savage says, is the creation of a broad stakeholder forum to approve and take ownership of the town’s development.
“The mine should be involved in development outside its footprint, but it should not become a de facto government,” Savage says. “Yes, we may still provide resources, but we don’t own the development process, and we don’t want to. A stakeholder forum bringing together government, providers of services and utilities, contractors, local businesses and the Manyama community needs to be established to develop a vision, and ensure ownership and support.”
The influx management plan represents the mine’s perspective on key community and mine risks associated with in-migration. Because the plan has not been approved, it is too soon to offer a detailed overview. However, some high-level concepts and recommendations can be shared. For instance, the plan suggests that the first step is the establishment of a stakeholder forum and identification of readily agreed projects. Examples of projects include the development of off-road bus-stops outside the central market area and relocation of the main entrance to the Manyama Basic School from the T5 to a less densely travelled road. The plan also calls for the construction of a brick wall to fence off a section of the school that faces the T5.
“Fencing off the school is a positive initiative that aims to be carried out quickly, not only because it will stop encroachment onto the school grounds and increase traffic safety, but because it will demonstrate to the community that positive changes are happening,” Gerrits says.
Given the state of influx in Manyama, the plan is expected to promote a more systematic pattern of development aimed at improving traffic flows and reducing congestion in the commercial market.
The idea is to create a development footprint for the town while simultaneously addressing some of the more pressing community and project risks posed by such high levels of in-migration. In this way, the spontaneous and seemingly haphazard pattern of development may be steered towards a framework that allows for incremental development over time.
In addition to creating a development footprint, the plan also recommends that Lumwana review its existing community development and health programs to ensure that their content, scale and resourcing adequately reflects the level of need and risk in the community.
While in-migration can lead to adverse impacts, it can also create opportunities, Gerrits says. Newcomers to a remote region bring new ideas, skills, technologies and resources, and willingness to invest in new opportunities. In-migration can also result in increased public sector interest, leading to strengthened government capacity, better health care and housing and improvements to local infrastructure. To ensure these benefits triumph over the risks, Gerrits reiterated the importance of careful planning, foresight and stakeholder cooperation.
“We must continue thinking about what this community is going to look like in five years time and manage to that future rather than only what we see today,” he says.