The research has been approved by the Ethical Commission in Social and Human Sciences (EASHW) at the University of Antwerp.
The international and Congolese researchers involved with this project will collect data based on oral consent from participants, who must be over 18 to participate. We will use purposive and convenience sampling techniques and only include people who are willing to share this information with us. Research will be carried out with small-scale producers (male and female miners and workers) at mine sites in the provinces of Lualaba and South Kivu. Including these producers in the research will involve the use of participatory methods, which are especially intended to amplify their voices.
Participants will include a) male and female small-scale producers (artisanal miners, traders, cooperatives, local smelters, etc.) in the provinces of Lualaba and South-Kivu from whom qualitative data will be collected, b) male and female small-scale producers participating in the survey, c) “key informants” outside the supply chain (local and provincial governments, civil society organisations, NGOs, miners’ cooperatives, business(wo)men, etc.). The implementation of data collection will rely on the expertise and the cultural sensitivity of the local research teams. The proposed research builds on the work that the CEGEMI research center (a Driving Change project partner) at l'Université Catholique de Bukavu has been carrying out for nearly 15 years at mine sites in South-Kivu. CEGEMI has gained a lot of experience on the ground and is seen as a trustworthy organization by the local population. Meanwhile, l'Université de Lubumbashi (UNILU), the other project partner, is involved in a VLIR-IUC, Challenges and opportunities for a sustainable socio-ecology in the Katangese Copperbelt Area, with several Flemish universities including U of Antwerp, for which there are six UNILU team leaders for each of the six projects. This institutional collaboration will be useful when it comes to hiring knowledgeable and experienced local researchers.
The approach taken for this research is a participatory approach, which aims to involve people in the production of knowledge about their own conditions. Following this principle, our methodology leaves a lot of room for local people to co-direct the research, to decide what types of methods they want to use, and to bring up the issues they deem important. Our methodological approach puts the researchers not in the position of ‘experts’, but as people who are learning from the small-scale producers and other participants. Eventually, they will use the knowledge they collected to design outreach materials that will hopefully contribute to an improvement of small-scale producers’ participation in battery-mineral supply chains.
Further strategies to mitigate potential risks include guaranteeing confidentiality (at a minimum) and anonymity whenever possible.