Home Institution

The George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

Kenya: Global Health and Human Rights


This research project aims to gain a greater understanding of the health implications that Ramba County’s goldmine has on miners, their families, and the environment. While this study observes the community-at-large, inclusive of visiting miners and extended family members of workers, it will focus on women who engage in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). Millions of people in the developing word depend on ASGM for their livelihood, evident in this case study in Ramba County. However, while gold is associated with wealth, there is great irony in the fact that those working within the mining industry are being exploited and live in extreme poverty that spurs additional health problems. The physical nature of this job is dangerous, specifically the exposure that workers have to mercury, an element used in the ASGM process. Women face the highest burden of negative health outcomes as a result of the gold mining process. Despite long hours of tiresome work, while also taking care of their children and daily house chores, the unpredictability of the job has put many women in Ramba County in great economic stress. Their low socioeconomic status exacerbates health problems that stem from their job, worsening the cycle of poverty that she and her family are already in. Additionally, the environmental impact the mine has had on existing farmland and the livelihood of farmers has impacted output, and therefore driven prices of staple foods. This strengthens the existing barriers that women miners in Ramba County experience when it comes to accessing affordable and healthy food for themselves and their children. A low-nutrient diet spurs poor health outcomes, worsening the cycle of poverty. Through conducting one-on-one interviews with various stakeholders, personal narrative is used as a tool for understanding the gold mine’s direct and indirect effects on health. Clear patterns have emerged that align with various other gold mine case studies that highlight this industry’s exploitative practices that disproportionately impact women. While the cycle of poverty and ill-health is difficult to break, miners have provided a few recommendations that may serve as catalysts for a healthier generation.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Development Studies | Environmental Public Health | Inequality and Stratification | Maternal and Child Health | Mining Engineering | Nutrition | Place and Environment | Regional Economics | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Health


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