Understanding the Social Context of the ASGM Sector in Ghana: A Qualitative Description of the Demographic, Health, and Nutritional Characteristics of a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana

October 2015

This paper describes factors related to demographics and health in an artisanal and small-scale gold mining community in Ghana’s Upper East Region.

This descriptive paper describes factors related to demographics and health in an artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) community in Ghana’s Upper East Region. Participants (n = 114) were surveyed in 2010 and 2011, adapting questions from the established national Demographic Health Survey (DHS) on factors such as population characteristics, infrastructure, amenities, education, employment, maternal and child health, and diet. In the study community, some indicators of household wealth (e.g., radios, mobile phones, refrigerators) are more common than elsewhere in Ghana, yet basic infrastructure (e.g., cement flooring, sanitation systems) and access to safe water supplies are lacking. Risk factors for poor respiratory health, such as cooking with biomass fuel smoke and smoking tobacco, are common. Certain metrics of maternal and child health are comparable to other areas of Ghana (e.g., frequency of antenatal care), whereas others (e.g., antenatal care from a skilled provider) show deficiencies. Residents surveyed do not appear to lack key micronutrients, but report lower fruit and vegetable consumption than other rural areas. The results enable a better understanding of community demographics, health, and nutrition, and underscore the need for better demographic and health surveillance and data collection across ASGM communities to inform effective policies and programs for improving miner and community health.