Collecting data in artisanal and small-scale mining communities: Measuring progress towards more sustainable livelihoods
This short note discusses methodological obstacles to the collection of microeconomic data in artisanal and small-scale mining communities. International donor organizations are supporting policy efforts that enhance the contribution to poverty alleviation of this mining subsector. The design and evaluation of such policy interventions require data on income, expenditure, investment, and savings in mining households and communities. These data are difficult to come by. Incomes are variable; migrants may work far from home; miners often work informally and sometimes illegally; mining populations and communities are heterogeneous and transient; and miners have many reasons to distort information. Legalization and organization of miners in cooperatives would facilitate documentation and research. These processes, however, are beyond the control of the typical policy consultant or donor organization. On their part, these parties can adopt an alternative model of research. This model involves the community in project development, data collection, and monitoring. It emphasizes continuity, cultural diversity, trust building and learning. The data thus collected should provide a firm basis for programmes that promote more sustainable livelihoods in artisanal and small-scale mining communities.