Abuja - The Nigerian Youth Climate Action Network (NYCAN), on Sunday,
appealed to the Federal Government to release the money meant to solve
the problem of lead poison in Zamfara.
A statement issued in Abuja by Hamzat Lawal, the NYCAN Advisor,
after a social media campaign in collaboration with Human Rights Watch,
stated that the poisoning had left thousands of children to die or face
He said that the release of the fund would enable the clean-up of the lead-contaminated areas in the state.
"If President Jonathan does not release the fund right away,
children in Bagega will be forced to continue to live in poisoned homes.
"Children in Bagega are dying. If we wait for another year to clean
up the poisoned areas, more children will die or become permanently
The statement quoted Babatunde Olugboji, the Deputy Programme
Director; Human Rights Watch, as saying that more than 400 children had
lost their lives to the mayhem.
"More than 400 children in Zamfara have died from lead poisoning and
unless the promised funds are released immediately, clean up of the
contaminated areas won’t start until after next year’s rainy season and
more children are at risk.''
The statement noted that artisanal gold mines were found throughout
the state, adding that high levels of lead in the earth and the use of
rudimentary mining methods had resulted in an ongoing epidemic of lead
poisoning among children.
It said children were particularly susceptible to the harm caused by
lead and high levels of lead exposure could cause brain, liver, kidney,
nerve, and stomach damage, as well as permanent disabilities.
The statement said that a research by Human Rights Watch in Zamfara
in late 2011 found that children were exposed to lead when they process
ore in the mines, when their miner relatives’ return home covered with
lead dust, and when the lead-filled ore is
manually or mechanically crushed at home.
Children could also be exposed to toxic lead in contaminated water and food.
"We have reached a crisis point in Zamfara. Thousands of children live
in toxic environment and are in urgent need of treatment.
"President Jonathan needs to make good his promise and release the
promised funds before the window of opportunity before the rainy season
closes. But he needs to act fast.''
The statement also quoted Human Rights Watch researchers in May as
saying that the government pledged close to US$5 million to clean up the
It said that the Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), an independent
international organisation for medical humanitarian aid had provided
life-saving treatment to more than 2,000 children in Zamfara.
It, however, noted that the organisation could not treat the
thousands of children who remained in urgent need until environmental
cleanup had been completed.
"This is because treating children when they are still actively
exposed to lead makes their bodies more susceptible to the harms of lead
"The cleanup of Bagega will only take place if the Federal
Government releases the promised funds, which should begin by
mid-January to ensure its completion before the rainy season.''