Community Relations: Case Studies
Silver Saves Lives
Access to safe drinking water is a major global challenge. The Silver Saves Lives initiative, launched with the assistance of Agile Sustainability, aims to make clean water more accessible to vulnerable groups within society and addresses part of our commitment to support goal number six of the SDGs, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Silver Saves Lives will begin by addressing national and local health issues in Mexico, targeting communities where we operate and clean water access is perceived as a concern. However, we intend for SSL to eventually become an international effort by pursuing partnerships with organisations such as UNDP, UNICEF, the Silver Institute and others. SSL is designed to propose a range of solutions depending on specific communities’ needs; we anticipate working with a variety of partners, amongst them the communities themselves.
We partnered with Isla Urbana and ConcentrArte, both NGOs, to develop a proposal for a pilot water harvesting project at Ciénega. A workshop was organised to stimulate constructive dialogue and alignment of objectives between the mine and strategic partners. We also introduced an innovative application of the photo voice method (storytelling aided by photography) aimed at bridging the divide between mine and community.
Bringing books and children together
Education is recognized as a key lever to reduce poverty and inequality. Children who develop solid reading skills perform better at school and improve their potential for full participation in society. Recognizing the importance of reading, we have partnered with the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), a non-profit organization, to bring books and children together in the communities where we operate.
With the valuable support of IBBY Mexico, we opened some “Bunkos” in our communities of Ciénega and Caborca. Bunkos are small community libraries for children where volunteers read aloud to children and facilitate discussions. Unlike traditional libraries, Bunkos are designed to be spacious, comfortable and equipped with a bookcase, a padded (foamy) carpet, colorful cushions and no tables to facilitate freedom of movement. Bunkos offer a space where children can choose their own readings and discuss their ideas with other children.
“I feel happy when I read, I enjoy coming to (Bunkos) the library”.
- Student from La Ciénega
The partnership with IBBY Mexico was fundamental. IBBY Mexico provided assistance with the choice of books, initial training to facilitators and follow-up visits. Additional to our Bunkos, we have partnered with several schools and community centers in the Fresnillo region to acquire a book collection and launch reading circles. Among reading circles, we organize one for the children of our employees in the Fresnillo region as part of our efforts to support the development of our people and their families.
Innovative teaching of science
Education is recognized as a key lever to reduce poverty and inequality. Reading, math and science are the foundation of basic education. Certainly, the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluates the performance of education the ability to apply reading, math and science skills to real-life situations. Recognizing the importance of science we promote innovative and experiential approaches to teach science.
With the valuable support of the Mexican NGO “INNOVEC”, we promote innovative approaches to teach science in the communities where we operate. Unlike conventional classes, INNOVEC model is based on an experiential and investigatory approach of diverse scientific topics such as climate, soils, chemical experiments, food chemistry, electric circuits and ecosystems. Indeed, the natural curiosity of children is the starting point to nurture reasoning skills through simple scientific experiences. Moreover, teachers are actively encouraged during their INNOVEC training to help children developing a self-learning spirit, problem solving skills and critical thinking.
The INNOVEC programme started (2013) at the “Guadalupe Victoria” elementary school and the “Francisco González Bocanegra” kindergarten, both in the “La Ciénega” region. To launch the programme, training was offered to teachers and a complete kit of material for experiments was donated to the schools. An important milestone was the presentation of the final projects of 370 elementary school students ranging from 1st to 6th grade. Teachers were pleased with the outcomes as well as the enthusiasm and initiative shown by their students.
“The big advantage of the programme is that everything is experiential. Children learn more while having fun. Having all the necessary material to conduct the scientific experiences was a critical success factor”.
- Miss Irma Isela Valverde (Teacher).
“We have been waiting for years to have a program like this in our school”.
- Mr Luis Enrique González Quezada (Teacher).
Development of local suppliers
Promoting small businesses in rural communities is key to grow and diversify their economy. Our San Julian project, supports farmers and other rural producers to improve their production and marketing systems by joining one of the Strategic Projects for Food Security (known in Spanish as PESA). PESA projects are implemented by Rural Development Agencies (ADR’S) using strategies of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
A group of farmers from eight of our communities are currently local suppliers of vegetables, eggs and pork meat. Through technical support, their production improved to comply with the quality standards of our dining facilities.
In addition, in the community of la “La Lagunita” a group of women entrepreneurs launched a bakery with the support of the community, the Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA) and the San Julian Project. With their bakery they are now self-employed, created jobs for 15 more people and preserved the tradition of making bread in wood-fired ovens. Their bread is sold to the company, in the community and nearby communities. A similar group of entrepreneurial woman from the community of “Las papas” launched a tortillería (a tortilla bakery) to become supplier of our dining facilities.
We support these projects with technical advice, in-kind support and connecting them with government programs and non-governmental organisations. We are convinced that supporting the development of small businesses stimulates and diversifies the local economy in rural communities.
In addition to frequent formal and informal meetings with our stakeholders, our community relations strategy includes comprehensive perception studies to deepen our insight on the issues that matter to our communities. These studies help us identify and evaluate the issues that matter to the communities, risks and opportunities, our credibility levels as employers and neighbors. In additions, these studies help us to better understand how our social and environmental commitment is perceived by the community.
We conduct perception studies in all our operating units. In our exploration and advanced development projects we carry out social impact assessments, to respond to the expectations of the Ecuador Principles. This studies show sociodemographic, political and cultural characteristics. In addition, these studies help us understand the social challenges faced by the communities and give us insights on the opportunities to have a positive impact. The engagement tools of the study include observation, surveys, interviews and focus groups.
We evaluate different dimensions that influence perceptions. As an employer, we are interested on better understanding how the community perceive the company in terms of pride, working conditions, health and Safety. Our Social Commitment is measured considering elements such as cooperation in emergencies, participation in community activities, support of sports, health, education and infrastructure. We evaluate our environmental commitment to realise to what extent our environmental performance is perceived. We are also interested on assessing community perceptions on our efforts to create value, our credibility and our behaviour as neighbours. Perception study results and social impact assessments are used in decision making process to improve our engagement strategies and social investment.