Margaret O'Callaghan's picture

Margaret O'Callaghan

Visiting Fellow, Resource Management in Asia-Pacific


B.App.Sci. - Health Educ., (CCAE), Cert. Ed. (Tas)

Contact details

Former career: Teacher; community worker; national and civil servant; researcher and writer. Major part of career focussed on international development assistance working, AusAID (1987-93). Work included project preparation and design, monitoring and evaluation and sectoral studies. Secondly, with UNFPA (UN Population Fund) serving as Country Representative to PNG (1993-1998) and Zambia (1998-2005) designing and managing programmes to support implementation of government’s national policies and development plans, including working closely with government, NGOs, researchers and communities, as well as with other UN and bilateral agencies (census, demography, use of data in planning, socio-cultural research, and reproductive health and gender, monitoring and evaluation).

Subsequent Work: Consultancies in the Pacific and PNG, research (UN women, women in politics, Cape to Cairo and mining), including producing papers and reports.

Relationship to Mining: In PNG, through UNFPA, in recognition of the reproductive health risks related to Mining Men with Money (MMMs), I provided some assistance to Porgera and Misima mines regarding reproductive health issues, including HIV and gender, and visited Bougainville during and post-war. Attended conferences - World Bank funded Gender and Mining, ANU 2008, African Downunder, Perth 2010, the Narratives of Nationhood Conference, Transformation and Contestation in Postcolonial Africa conference, Lusaka, 2012; the International Aid-Working together for development conference, Canberra, 2012; various African Studies Conferences, Zambian Alternative Mining Indabas in Ndola, Zambia, 2013 and 2014 and AusAID funded Mining for Development Conference in Sydney, 2013.

In Zambia (a major copper mining country) I was responsible for overseeing the planning and establishing of a sub-regional UNFPA office in Solwezi, NW Province, in the immediate pre-mine boom period and during its initial stages. Work included overseeing Zambian project staff who travelled widely around the province, including undertaking rapid socio-cultural research work. As part of this work I regularly interacted with local Chiefs and local government. In order to answer the question of what happened to this previously quiet, neglected and largely rural province I developed a research project to document and analyse the impact of the 2000 plus mining boom. Work includes compiling an annotated bibliography on NWP of government, academic, international organizational, mining company, NGO and media data and reports (currently at 265 pagers); building up a network of research and other contacts and compiling a table on recent research to help coordination and linkages between researchers; undertaking three months field work in 2012, 2013 and 2014; compiling issues papers, giving an occasional seminar and acting as a resource.

I am currently incorporating the information gathered into a book on the first decade of the ‘boom’ and analyzing the issues which arose, with a focus on the three main players - government, the communities and the companies. The purpose of the book is to provide a history and to identify lessons learnt and help advocate for applying them in future activities and approaches so that the impact of mines is as positive as possible for all parties. An accompanying paper will synthesis findings into a simple format for the less academic.

Research interests

My current major research focus is on documenting the socio-economic impact of the new mining boom in North West Province Zambia, focussing initially on the preparation of an annotated bibliography and an issues paper. The results should be of interest to government, mining companies, international agencies, NGOs and academics and help to contribute to the formulation of appropriate development activities. This interest has arisen from having observed the impact of mining in PNG, my earlier UN involvement in NW province in Zambia and seeing the need for mining companies to become better informed and equipped to prevent and ameliorate negative impact and governments and communities better empowered to cope with what is undoubtedly a deluge of social and economic change. Preliminary results have been presented at ANU, and in Zambia. My other research involves the history of early Cape to Cairo journeys – research which also relates to the history of mining in southern Africa and has been presented at a History Department seminar at ANU.

Updated:  24 March 2017/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team