Ban Chaung coal mining is located in the district of Dawei (Tavoy) in Tanintharyi Region. Full construction of a 60-acre open-pit mine in Khon Chaung Gyi Village began at the beginning of 2012. Since their beginning, mine operations have polluted the atmosphere and water and subsequent waste disposal, damaging the livelihoods of local pEoPle. Since 2015, landfill stacks have constantly burnt and emit stinky nasty smoke into the atmosphere. Villagers experience skin, eye and mouth, body pain and vomiting trouble and discomfort. Certain residents have developed tumors. The recorded frequency of miscarriages has also increased.
Yearly prayer celebration of No Coal Movement in Ban Chaung/Tarkapaw
Therefore, TarkaPaw is helping the villagers in Ban Chaung and lead mining sector at Wa Gone affected by the negative impact of coal mining. Tarkapaw Youth Group with Karen youth was established in 2010 and since then has worked permanently in the mining, dams related issues and ethnic rights sectors. In 2018, Tarkapaw reached out Paung Ku for a plan to build and mobilize the community to help at least 24 towns and 10390 pEoPle from their destination region. The objective of the initiative was to strengthen the society and increase its understanding of the elements of human rights and the environment which will enhance the promotion and campaigning abilities in the society regard to coal mining. Paung Ku team discussed detail strategies with beforehand of the project and considered ways of including marginalized individuals.
As the first step of the project, between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, Youth Capacity Building workshops were held with 44 respondents from Ban Chaung Chaung Area, including individuals with disabilities. The youth camp is intended to promote the leadership skills of youth in target areas of Tanintharyi Region. It empowers the youth in touch with community development work and they participated in the data collection of community research after the workshop.
In the meantime, Tarkapaw also prepared exposure trip for Ban Chaung Chaung community to Ann-Din Village where organized. Ann- Din is the community fought intended coal power plant until the plan is canceled. Both sides shared the understanding of the effects of coal mining initiatives through mutual exchange between them. The group learned the present scenario and met with the affected community which lead to the next level of project. Another significant work of Tarkapaw is awareness raising sections with school children 8 primary and two middle schools in Ban Chaung area. Even though the project targeted students but their parents also joined the sections.
The Project Coordinator Naw Say Al Moo expressed that “The children were so into what we are explaining, like Mercury as those substances closely exist with their lives but they didn’t know that it can harm them, I believe our awareness section reached their heart”.
Throughout the project, Paung Ku program officer works closely and in March of 2019, Tarkapaw team and Paung Ku team did the End of the Project Reflection (EoP) with Tarkapaw. 17,804,800 Kyats support from Paung Ku over the year, 2307 person have been benefitted directly where there were 8083 indirect beneficiaries from the project. In the EoP section, both Paung Ku and Tarkapaw reflect on the achievement outcomes, who benefitted the most and how much of the works reached to marginalized pEoPle.
Besides, the team discoursed over on the lessons and learning during implementing stages of the project and explore the main changes that have occurred as a result of the project. More importantly, the team discovered how well the works contributes to achieving social justice where pEoPle are respected regardless of their sex, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, physical ability, sexuality or any other characteristic. And reflection end coming up with about future plan.
On the EoP reflection, the program coordinator of Tarkapaw said, “It was very helpful for us having review sections like this, which open our minds, and make us aware how we should do better next time, clear our head what we should do next.”
Digging through EoP, it has been seen that the community increases self-reliance to conduct and implement the works independently, for example, local folks developed complaint letters and engage with government officials and ministry representatives. Besides they lead the activities and negotiation with company and government officials on behalf of their own community. It is a must considerable progress because in the past community members were very afraid of authorities due to the impacts of protracted civil war. In the project scope, they have sent total the complaint letters to Regional and Union level government departments as well as Karen National Union (KNU). And KNU promise to community that they won’t give permission to coal mining again in Ban Chaung area.