In the last of CMJ's exclusive coverage of Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama project, the company's commitment to its neediest neighbours in Chile is examined.
Barrick Gold has made what it calls the "Atacama Commitment" to help the neediest families in northern Chile. The Atacama Region is home to some of the country’s poorest and most isolated communities. The Atacama Commitment is a unique alliance between Barrick, three Chilean NGOs and the United Nations Global Compact that will improve housing, technology, education and health services in the region. A series of targeted programs will address some of the most difficult conditions encountered by people living in poverty, helping an estimated 4,000 people.
"The Atacama Commitment is a powerful alliance that brings together some of Chile’s most respected organizations and Barrick in a concerted strategy to alleviate poverty in the region," said Igor Gonzales, president of Barrick South America. "By working together and drawing on our different strengths, this coalition will address some of the most difficult conditions and barriers encountered by people living in poverty. We welcome other partners who wish to be part of this strategic effort to help our neighbours and their families make a permanent transition to a better life."
? New homes for families: 700 new homes will be built to replace substandard housing.
? Services for children with disabilities: A new health center, to be located in Copiapó City, will provide children with disabilities access to integrated medical, therapeutic and psychosocial services. Barrick will fund the management of key center programs for a five-year period.
? Bridging the digital divide: Class 21, an educational partnership involving the Cisneros Foundation, Intel Corp. and Barrick, is bringing modern computer technology and wireless internet access to isolated schools in the region. So far 400 children in two schools in the isolated district of Alto del Carmen have received laptops and Internet access, a first for the remote district.
? Sustainable development: Professionals will provide their expertise to develop sustainable development programs tailored to the region.