UNODC Brazil together with local governments deliver social support initiative to Brazil’s largest wildcat mining regions

Itaituba, Brazil, 1 June 2023, - From 1-12 May, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Brazil supported a “Citizenship Action” in partnership with the Secretariat for Social Assistance (SEMDAS) of Itaituba City Hall, and with support from the Secretariat of Justice of the State of Pará (SEJU), with a focus on the districts of Moraes de Almeida, Jardim do Ouro, Creporizao and Creporizinho.

The initiative was part of the UNODC Tapajós Project, which aims to develop a better understanding of working conditions, human trafficking, and other human rights violations in the gold mining sector in the Tapajós River Basin.

The municipality of Itaituba has a population of over 100,000 inhabitants spread over 61,000 square kilometers. Itaituba is considered the largest gold producer from wildcat mining in Brazil, while the Tapajós river basin where it is situated is considered one of the largest wildcat mining regions in the world. These districts included in the “Citizenship Action” were identified by the municipal government of Itaituba to receive the action and are part of the so-called "wildcat mining zone" of the municipality, where there is a concentration of miners and communities historically linked with gold extraction.

The great distance between the urban area of Itaituba and its districts makes it difficult for many people to access basic services such as the issuing of identity cards and enrollment in assistance programs. The District of Moraes de Almeida, for example, is over 300 kilometers from the urban area of Itaituba. The region is characterized by a high population mobility, characterized by groups of people who move in search of work in the wildcat mines. The difficulty of access to health services, social assistance, basic sanitation, and public safety exposes these populations to great vulnerability in a context where environmental crimes and human rights violations are frequently reported.

The purpose of the “Citizenship Action” was to offer social assistance and citizenship services to the population, as well as to identify other demands for specialized services for the communities visited. The initiative had a team of 22 professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, and lawyers. During the period, 3,130 people were served in all the districts visited and offered services such as the Single Registry (Bolsa Família), the Continuous Cash Benefit (BPC), birth registration, registration for the Federal Senior Citizens' Free Pass, and referrals to the services network.

The “Citizenship Action” represents an important milestone of collaboration between UNODC and Itaituba's town hall aimed at mitigating the social impacts caused by wildcat mining in the region. UNODC, through the Tapajós Project, will seek in the coming months to contribute to community development in the Middle and Upper Tapajós River region by strengthening local governments and civil society organizations to enable access to social protection services, public safety, and public health.

The Tapajós Project is implemented by UNODC, under its mandate to assist countries in implementing the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, in partnership with the University of Chicago/National Opinion Research Centre (NORC), national institutions and support from the United States Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP/PEMS).

Find out more about the Tapajós Project here

Find out more about the UN Trafficking Protocol here


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