Across mineral-rich sub-Saharan Africa, it has become increasingly common for mining companies to support development schemes in host communities where resource extraction takes place. The negotiation of so-called ‘community development agreements’ (CDAs), provides an opportunity to address the social and environmental impacts of mining, while at the same time serving as a platform through which company-community relations can be mediated. Unlike discretionary corporate social responsibility programmes, in many countries, CDAs are embedded in law, invoking parties’ mutual commitments and responsibilities. Such initiatives have been heralded as ‘game–changers’, promising equitable redistribution of wealth, structured community development and stable investment climates for extractives companies. However, factors that concern the process of their negotiation, coupled with structural weaknesses, can affect their implementation, transforming them into spaces of contestation which can threaten their potential. Drawing upon fieldwork carried out in Sierra Leone between 2013-2018, this paper critically explores the contested nature of CDAs. Focusing on two different case studies in the south and east of the country, it argues that such agreements will only contribute to genuine development in host communities if the longstanding issues that have stalled the pre-existing forms and instruments of community development are systematically addressed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law