Climatic Extremes, Mining, and Mycobacterium Ulcerans: A Coupled Systems Approach

Climatic Extremes, Mining, and Mycobacterium Ulcerans: A Coupled Systems Approach (reBUild) in collaboration with The University of Mines and Technology, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the University of Ghana, the Ghana Health Directorate (all in Ghana), and the University of Northern Texas and University of Idaho, 2009-2014.In Ghana, up to half a million men and women are employed in the artisanal mining sector. Applying a political ecology and environmental justice lens, I examine the links between the contested use of mercury – the only extraction method available to artisanal gold miners – and their marginalization through large-scale corporations and public, academic, and state discourses. I use a participatory research design to expose how these persistent discourses that portray artisanal miners as contaminating criminals preclude them for being good environmental stewards. Recognizing the miners as knowledgeable peers allows me to create parity-fostering spaces for engagement and construct counter-narratives as prerequisites for livelihood resilience in this sector. My current research focuses on another ostracizing discourse that connects small-scale mining to the transmission of Buruli ulcer, a debilitating skin disease. We use a complex systems approach to identify linkages and non-linear dynamics between land disturbance through mining and logging, flooding events that result in stagnant water, and human behavior in potential risk areas to unravel the transmission of this tropical disease.

For further information, see the ReBuild web page at

PI:  Petra Tschakert (Geography): —

Main Team Members:
Joseph Oppong University of North Texas, USA
Richard Amankwah University of Mines and Technology, Ghana

Edith Parker University of Iowa, USA
Simon Gawu KNUST, Ghana

Kamini Singha Penn State University, USA
Heidi Hausermann Penn State University, USA

Erica Smithwick Penn State University, USA
Erasmus Klutse Ghana Health Directorate, Ghana

Ray Voegborlo KNUST, Ghana
Frank Nyame University of Ghana, Ghana

Annmarie Ward Penn State University, USA
and research partners and community members from Ghana and students and teachers from Penns Valley.

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