Remediation (environmental clean-up) of the lead poisoned Bagega commenced in february, 2013 where population of about 7,535 where 1,500 children were expected to be treated for lead poisoning in Zamfara, Northern Nigeria. The remediation was the necessary stage before the treatment could commence.
On 23rd April, 2013 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) begun treating children exposed to the worst-ever lead poisoning epidemic, after long-delayed government financing to clean up the area was finally delivered.
The lead poisoning crisis in northwest Zamfara state that first came to light in 2010 was "the worst outbreak ever recorded," MSF said, with an official death toll saying 400 children were killed and thousands were poisoned across the state.
The promised $3m for remediation met with repeated delays and the government of Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, faced mounting pressure from activists like Hamzat Lawal (see HERE) saying more children were unnecessarily put at risk.
|Word Cloud derived from interviews with the people of Bagega and Zamfara|
On Tuesday MSF announced that remediation had been completed in some areas.
"MSF is very happy to have finally - after three years - begun medical treatment in Bagega," the most acutely affected area in Zamfara, a statement said.
But thousands of children remain at risk, the medical aid group said, because remediation remains unfinished in some areas and the work must stop when the rains become too heavy, which could happen any week.
"Our teams are under tremendous pressure to finish the remediation on a very tight schedule," said Simba Tirima of the TerraGraphics Foundation which is overseeing the operation.
Lead was dispersed in several Zamfara areas by the processing of ore for gold extraction using unsafe mining techniques. Illicit gold mining is more lucrative than agriculture for the impoverished farming communities.
|Children extracting Gold using an unsafe Technique|
Local communities had initially largely concealed or denied the fatalities and illnesses from lead poisoning for fear that authorities would ban their mining activities.