I first heard the words “meeting under the mango tree” as a euphemism for having a predictable, easy to access process for enabling community members to raise issues and concerns in a safe and familiar place.  There is no fixed agenda and no one-size-fits-all for these exchanges. With one company we set up drop-in centres in each local village with a designated community officer in attendance everyday. Another made it known that a company person would be available “under the mango tree” for two hours every market day. I am hoping this blog will achieve something similar – the regular, free and open sharing of ideas and experiences. Time will tell how well it works out.

Local to Global - The Zimbabwe Friendship Bench

Community Health |  7 January 2021

I recently came across this story from Zimbabwe while clocking up some miles in the gym – an ABC "All in the mind" podcast about grandmother’s, mental health and the friendship bench.  Having benefitted from access to counselling when going through my own difficult times a few years back it struck a cord. Inspiring and a reminder of the ingenuity and strength of local solutions. From very small beginnings the friendship bench has been exported to Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Zanzibar and, perhaps surprisingly, New York City...

 


End of year reflections on Ghana

Company Behaviour |  31 December 2020

I went to Ghana as part of a team planning to build a new mine. I had been working on the studies and design work for the company's two Ghana projects for five years so I was very familiar with the project but not particularly familiar with Ghana which I had visited only three times, two of those being very short project kick-off trips. I was also a complete community novice, with this being my first overseas assignment so, perhaps not surprisingly, I made plenty of mistakes. What follows is a look back on some of the processes we put in place and the results we saw in three important areas...


First visit checklist

Management |  24 December 2020

If you haven’t visited the country or project site before it will be useful to make the necessary arrangements so that you can tick off all the actions on the First Visit Checklist. At the end of the day, the more advice, views and ideas you can gather early on the better informed you’ll be...


Local knowledge

Management |  10 December 2020

If you are taking on an existing project or maybe you’ve acquired it through a purchase or takeover, the in-country site team should be a good source of information to help you get up to speed…


The value of a quick look

Management |  26 November 2020

It used to be that satellite imagery or aerial photography was expensive and difficult to access. Now it is easy to see what is happening on the ground around projects. At its simplest you can start by logging into Google Earth, zooming in on a known set of coordinates or a local town name and having a play. If you have a team on the ground, asking them to take some drone imagery is cheap and easy to obtain and provides another level of detail...


Global perspectives

Management |  12 November 2020

Home country and host country governments and local communities expect companies to respect their laws, to operate openly and in consultation with them and to implement best practices. While there are many (too many maybe) good practice guidelines, these six widely recognized international social performance guidelines provide a solid platform for any project...