Gold mining in the Nigerian state of Zamfara has given the area economic opportunity, but also has created a public health crisis of lead poisoning in local children. Lead dust created during the mining process gets into the homes and drinking water, and has caused over 400 deaths in children since 2010. Earlier this year, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan promised 4 million dollars to clean up the village of Bagega and install safer mining techniques, but has yet to release the funds.
Human Rights Watch researchers have been documenting the crisis in Bagega where some families have had 5 out of 10 children die from lead poisoning. HRW is concerned that if the cleanup funds are not released before Nigeria’s rainy season, thousands of children will be at risk of permanent damage or death. A social media campaign targeting messages on President Jonathan’s Facebook asking him to release the funds has started, with thousands of comments.
In these photos, we can see the lead from mining, and the who are children playing and eating in the dangerous dust.
A child operating a grinder, which creates toxic lead dust.