- Posted February 1, 2013 by
Nigeria finally agrees to clean up lead contamination
Activists and NGOs have hailed the decision and pledge by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to sanitise villages contaminated by lead that was released by gold miners breaking open rocks in previous years.
A sum of £2.5 million will be contributed to the clean-up and the funds will help 1,500 children who are desperately need life-saving medical treatment. The villages are all located in the northern Zamfara state of the country.
In 2009, children started to die of lead poisoning after gold miners broke open rocks near their homes. Children suffer more from lead poisoning due to their size and vulnerability. Since the mining started, 460 children have died, while 4,000 have been suffering from symptoms including lethargy, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation and headaches.
Despite the old regime promising the money in 2011 and the President Jonathan’s pledge last May to release the funding, no action has been taken until now due to “the bureaucratic nature of Nigeria’s political system”, according to BBC journalists. Sadly, it was a lengthy internet and media campaign that prompted money to eventually be released, and not internal governmental pressure.
The funding’s recent release will ensure the clean-up will be finished before the rainy season, as rain water can move contaminated sand elsewhere, further prolonging the problem. Decontamination will start next week, as well as the screening of suffering children and their treatment; as long as small amounts of lead have been ingested, the poisonous metal can be flushed out of the blood with relative ease.
The most important goal for the villagers and all those concerned is to see these children living and playing in their own environment again, without the constant risk posed to their health. Miners have been warned by the authorities to cease operating in the area.