Nigeria frees long-delayed funds to address lead poison

January 31, 2013
Health workers excavate contaminated soil at Dareta village, Anka district in Zamfara State on June 10, 2010. Nigeria has provided nearly $3 million in long-delayed financing to clean up part of an area where lead poisoning has killed hundreds of children, Doctors Without Borders said.

Nigeria has provided nearly $3 million in long-delayed financing to clean up part of an area where lead poisoning has killed hundreds of children, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday.

The crisis in northwest Zamfara state that first came to light in 2010 was called the worst such epidemic "in modern history" by Human Rights Watch, with an official saying 400 children were killed across the state.

The government in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, has come under mounting pressure from activists to release the funds, saying more children's lives were at risk.

The $2.7 million (two million euros) that Nigeria has made available will be spent cleaning up the village of Bagega, one of the hardest hit areas, where up to 1,500 children are suffering from lead poisoning, Ivan Gayton of France-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told AFP.

Gayton said the other seven villages affected by the epidemic had been cleared of .

"The federal government, through the ministry of environment, has made available $2.7 million needed to begin the remediation in Bagega village in Zamfara state and we expect to begin the exercise on Monday," Gayton told AFP.

In November, MSF released a report that said the in Bagega needed to be removed before the rainy season starts in April, warning of potentially "disastrous" consequences if rainfall caused the to spread further.

"We've been sounding the alarm increasingly since November," Gayton said.

Clean up, known as remediation, cannot be carried out during the and treatment can only begin once remediation is complete.

Lead was dispersed in several Zamfara areas by the processing of ore for gold extraction using unsafe mining techniques. Illicit is more lucrative than agriculture for the impoverished farming communities.

Local communities had initially largely concealed or denied the fatalities and illnesses from lead poisoning for fear that authorities would ban their mining activities.

Gayton said that when the cleanup is complete, additional funds will be needed to put in place safer mining practices.

Most Nigerians live on less than $2 per day despite the oil wealth in the country, which has long been held back by corruption and mismanagement.

Explore further: Nigeria must clear lead poison soil to avoid 'disaster', MSF says

Related Stories

Nigeria must clear lead poison soil to avoid 'disaster', MSF says

November 15, 2012
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday urged Nigeria to release funds promised to clean up an area where lead poison killed hundreds of children, warning that further delays could be "disastrous."

Nigeria lead poisoning 'worst in modern history': HRW

February 7, 2012
A lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria's north that has killed 400 children and affected thousands is the worst in modern history, but cleanup has not even begun in many areas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

Lead poisoning in 2,000 children in north Nigeria

October 28, 2011
Illegal gold mining has left at least 2,000 children with lead poisoning in several northern Nigerian villages, where 400 children have already died from contamination, an official said Friday.

Adverse effects of mining industry provoke hard questions for medical humanitarian organizations

August 28, 2012
Increasingly humanitarian organizations will find themselves responding to health emergencies provoked by the adverse effects of mining and other extractive industries, setting up a potential clash to do with the core principles ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.