Work Plan
The Environmental Colours of Microfinance
Appendix A: Summary of three case studies on gold mining and brickmaking in Zimbabwe and textiles in Bangladesh

Researchers Workshop: Summary


1.1 Introduction

Following is a summary of the main elements underlying the methodology used to identify environmental effects in the three case studies:

Gold Mining In Zimbabwe

The study covered large and small mines as well as gold panning activities. Primary and secondary sources of data were used. Primary data collection included field observations, meetings/workshops and interviews. Four separate interview guides were used for small mine owners, large scale mines, employees and panners respectively. Secondary data from the Ministry of Mines, the Central Statistics Office, Institute of Mining Research and Institute of Development Studies was used but was found inadequate. A representative sample of mines was selected on the basis of accessibility within a region. The triangulation method was used to analyse and validate data.

Brickmaking in Zimbabwe

A cross section of brickmakers were selected, mainly from amongst those with whom the researchers had previous contacts. The study undertook: a literature review; detailed interviews and site observations which involved measurement and analysis of soil samples, strength of bricks, coal and boiler waste samples, and wood fuel samples; and, workshops involving brickmakers and research centres.

Textiles in Bangladesh

The researchers conducted case studies of selected textile mills chosen according to the type of fabric used and geographical location (urban/semi urban). The work involved: a literature review; site observations and interviews (structured and semistructured); group discussions; laboratory analyses for waste water. Primary and secondary data on physical, technical and socio economic characteristics was collected and analysed. Questionnaires used for the interviews were tailored to three types of respondents: owners, workers and neighbours.

1.2 Commonalities

All three case studies made an assessment of pollution emissions and identified environmental effects. They did not undertake an in-depth assessment of the environmental impacts, except in fairly general and qualitative terms. However there was agreement that a rapid indicative environment assessment of the type conducted by the researchers was useful.

The studies noted that secondary sources of data were by and large inadequate and unreliable.

The comparison of pollution effects between large and small enterprises was problematic because of difficulties in estimating the cumulative impacts of small enterprises.

In all the studies, sampling was undertaken in a "pragmatic" manner and was not aimed at selecting a statistically significant sample. Practical considerations for sample selection included size, accessibility, and geographical stratification. This may have resulted in over researching some areas that had been selected due to previous contacts with the researchers. It was also felt that access was more of a problem with large enterprises because of greater reluctance on their part to provide environmental information. Paradoxically this reluctance stems from a higher level of awareness of the environmental impacts of their activities.

All three studies followed a material balance approach and used an index of pollution per unit of output as their unit of measurement.

The importance of doing a financial cost benefit analysis of improvement options proposed by the studies was underlined- this has not been done in the present research.

All three studies point to the need to assess the capability to do laboratory tests and take adequate measurements. These are currently lacking to a large degree in both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh

1.3 Differences

The mining case study had some unique aspects that made it quite distinct from the other two. Affected population is widely dispersed in the mining sector, with a number of individual operators. This made it difficult for the researchers to go back to cross check and verify data. Moreover environmental impacts from the mining industry are more diverse than those in the textile and brickmaking sector. The role of the government is also greater in this sector than in textiles and brickmaking.

Process technology of the textile dyeing industry is well known and secondary scientific information, including coefficients/emission factors are available. This is the case for brickmaking to a lesser degree, but not in the mining industry.

Sectoral context, absorptive capacities, geographical conditions and socio cultural environments are quite different for the three studies resulting in differences in intensity and nature of impacts.


The following general conclusions emerged from the discussions regarding the policy and regulatory framework:

Existing legislation in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh is inadequate, and reactive rather than proactive. There is a definite need to provide industry with incentives. In some cases fiscal incentives may be used but more generally greater use could be made of voluntary compliance methods accompanied by demonstration of financial and environmental benefits of cleaner production techniques.

It is not sufficient to rely on governments for enforcement of legislation, which was found to be weak in all cases. Stakeholder involvement through greater environmental awareness amongst affected parties, and information on pollution impacts was considered to be an effective tool that needs promoting. NGOs can play a critical role in mobilising stakeholder involvement in enforcement of legislation. For small industries in particular there was a need for an intermediary to act as spokesman or advisor.

It was also felt that participatory approaches to policy setting with the active involvement of industry would be more effective and proactive.

The need for training and awareness raising programmes was stressed. This was deemed equally necessary for industry and policy makers.

Institutional support and infrastructure development to benefit small scale industries was seen as an effective means for mitigating adverse environmental effects from this sector. The role of industry associations and cooperatives was especially important in this respect.

Large industries have the potential to improve environmental performance through better environmental management and voluntary monitoring of their environmental impacts.

There is a need for better and more reliable secondary data in all three cases. Government policy should support research and demonstrations of cleaner production methods.

A proposal to set up an environmental fund to provide seed money for testing and development of cleaner production options was suggested.

2.2 Discussion on the need for a full EIA

The group felt that there was a need to conduct a full EIA at the enterprise level. It was suggested that one industry or a cluster of units in each sector be taken as a case study. The EIA study would complement the present research in that it would look also at the absorptive capacity of environmental resources and help our understanding of social and community impacts. It would also facilitate the implementation of mitigation options and environmental management systems.



  • Conduct two focused EIAs: one around a heavy gold panning area, and, the other around a mining services centre.

  • Elaborate basic environmental guidelines for small scale miners.

  • Produce information material and outputs on mercury pollution, including videos and case studies. These can be used at training and dissemination workshops.

  • Set up a mining services trust fund whose mandate would include: replication of mining services centres; formalisation of small scale mining, and environmental awareness campaigns and training.


  • Demonstration projects on cleaner production

  • Evaluate financial costs and benefits of environmental investments.

  • Carry out EIAs on specific production plants to enhance present research findings.

  • Develop guidelines for environmental audits for small scale brick production.

  • Organise and conduct training programmes, awareness campaigns for entrepreneurs and policy makers, using producer associations as avenues for greater participation.

  • Undertake R&D on alternative fuels, materials, energy efficiency etc.

  • Pilot demonstration for waste water treatment in one factory.

  • Work with small scale cottage industry associations to do demo project on source reduction an d treatment options for a cluster of small firms.

  • Improve product quality along with pollution control. This would give the industry a marketing advantage. In this respect it is also possible to link up with secure buyers including large NGOs.

3.2 Suggestions for Joint Work

  • Develop a rapid assessment guide for small industries to serve as a common methodology for demonstration purposes.

  • Elaborate best practice case studies, videos and training kits.

  • Conduct demonstration of cleaner production methods for each sector.

  • Information exchange and networking.

  • Joint fund raising.

This document was prepared by -
Intermediate Technology Development Group
Myson House, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HT, UK
Tel: +44 -1788 560631 Fax: +44 -1788 540270

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Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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