October 22, 2010

Children's Day, October 2010 - The price of the Gold

For this month's Children's Day on our blog I wanted to write something about a project that aims at bringing smiles on children's faces - but in light of a news bulletin I watched yesterday,
I had to write about something else.

This is not a fully document piece of writing and I apologize for that. you will find much more well documented reports from the sources I mentioned and on the suggested links below.
This is aimed at only bringing attention to a situation that affects a large number of people and children especially as a high risk group.

Photo : The Ecologist

Gold. It's symbolism is associated to deity and power. It's shiny aspect has been the pride and joy of many. It is a big part of the global economy.
Throughout history has been part of the rise and fall of empires and people.
For communities and individuals have been a way out of poverty but much to often this claimed too many lifes and destroyed too much of other nature's riches. Gold mining is on debate in my country so this has very close ties to 'home".

Photo : guardian.co.uk

In the past weeks news agencies have been reporting on information from UN, Doctors Without Borders and World Health Organization about an outbreak of lead toxicity in northern Nigeria, the Zamfara State.
According to WHO, The Zamfara State Ministry Of Health released data about a pattrn of childhood death and illness in at least 6 villages in the Local Government Areas of Bukkuyum and Anka.
Doctors Without Borders reports that earlier this year, cases of lead poisoning in children and adults were confirmed in 5 villages in Zamfara State and newer data show an increase of the affected population area.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted a preliminary study say that in the affected villages more people have died this year then anywhere in the world over the past 40 years.
Mining has been banned for several months in the northwestern Nigerian State

International agencies are working in an attempt to contain the pollution but 
18,000 people are affected by mining activities 
(may that be mining of the gold or processing it).

At least 400 children have died from poisoning.

Photo : The Nigerian Inquirer

Further more the communities are reluctant to offer information about lead-related illnesses or deaths - gold is the mean of escaping a life of severe poverty2 hours extracting it from the ground could be the equivalent of 2 months cultivating millet.
Sacrificing children and the surrounding environment is not the grounds for sustainable development. I'm not denying the right of each individual to the pursuit of better living nor am I judging those who do.The problem should be tackled by local, national and international authorities in the sense of creating legal background and means to implementing long term development programs from which the communities will be able to profit from without compromising the future.

The Nigerian Inquirer - The Tragic Gold Mining Affair in Zamfara State

Reuters - 400 Nigerian children dead from lead poisoning: MSF


Cassarah said...

Thank you your this important entry, for opening our eyes for gold´s dirty side.

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