Newmont began its partnership with Project WET in March 2018, through pilot programs in Peru and Suriname, in an effort to increase community awareness and science-based knowledge about water.
In order to understand how to design the program and take into account local water challenges and perceptions, Project WET toured Suriname and the area around the Merian operation – a jungle landscape dominated by the Marowijne River and home to the Pamaka Maroon community. As a result of this preliminary work, the Project WET team decided that “Healthy River,” an exercise that uses easy-to-find materials to demonstrate how water flows through a watershed and the ease with which contamination travels, would be essential to the Suriname program. The Marowijne River is essential to Pamakan life, and it has been impacted by artisanal mining, household washing and sewage.
In November 2018, Project WET trained a core team of five Ministry of Education trainers as part of the “train-the-trainers” model, enabling the program to scale nationally.
In 2019, the Community Development Fund, a foundation governed by the Pamaka community, the government and Newmont Suriname, inaugurated a potable water system on the main Pamakan river island, Langa Tabiki. The potable water system’s success and sustainability depend on continued education about water conservation at the local level – regardless of perceived ample water levels.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, Project WET plans to re-engage with the Ministry of Education, reinforce the concepts of conservation and protection, prepare for future trainings, and monitor and evaluate results.