Public Participation in Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (Esias) of Mining Projects: Perspectives and Highlights from the Senegal Case Study
Major development projects, particularly mining, are regularly contested by the population because of the sometimes harmful impacts on the biophysical and socio-economic environment of local communities. Environmental and social impact studies (ESIA), which should enable mitigation measures to be taken, are often considered to be biased and do not take into account all their impacts, for lack of real consultation with the populations.We were interested in the perceptions of ESIAs by populations impacted by projects, targeting four ESIAs carried out in Senegal. From the point of view of the populations, 91% of the people residing in the areas where the projects are located were not involved. The latter state that they did not participate in any phase of the ESIA. More specifically, 82% were not informed of the outfit a public restitution of ESIA validation.Public participation by the populations concerned is perceived as not considered in the ESIAs. It seems appropriate to propose a formal procedure that can be understood by the populations in order to define, on the basis of logical criteria, the term “population” in ESIAs, and to guarantee their participation and/or their effective representation. We also recommend simplified accessibility of the ESIAs by the populations. The data collected and compiled during the ESIAs should be made available to the national academic world and experts mandated by the population, when they have no strategic interest. Finally, the holding of ESIA public restitutions should be more transparent to guarantee the sustainability of the projects and their social acceptance.
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