Lead poison kills 400 in Zamfara –HRW

An international human rights researcher and advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, has said about $4m will be needed to clean up the lead-poisoned parts of Zamfara State.

It also said in a statement that the lead poisoning epidemic had killed about 400 children in the state since 2010.

The group in Lagos on Tuesday released photos and video footage on the epidemic ravaging the state.

According to HRW’s Deputy Program Director, Babatunde Olugboji, who addressed news men after the event, the situation in the state needs urgent intervention by the Federal Government as the efforts of the state government are no longer sufficient.

The group said in the statement, “Four hundred children have died since 2010, according to official estimates, yet environmental cleanup efforts have not even begun in numerous affected villages.”

Speaking on the urgency the crisis demands, Olugboji said the government had a “small window” before the raining season fully set in to embark on the remediation of the contaminated parts of the state.

He said, “The experts are saying about $4m is needed to be committed to cleaning up of the state. They are saying if they start now there is a very huge possibility that they can finish by June, which is when the raining season will start. It means they have a very small window because it is best done during the dry season otherwise it can be reversed if done during the raining season.”

Olugboji said the Federal Government needed to release funds for the purpose and show sufficient political will.

The group said in its statement that the state was a mineral rich state with significant deposits of gold, adding that the people got contaminated while mining using their rudimentary tools.

Also, the group’s Health Researcher, Jane Cohen, who described the outbreak of lead poisoning in the state as unprecedented in human history, said the solution required was of three parts, all of which must be executed together.

Cohen said, “There is a three-part solution which must be done together. The parts are a safer mining practices must be implemented; an environmental cleaning up of the affected area must be conducted and all children at risk of lead poisoning must be tested and treated.”

Its video footage which lasted about five minutes, showed various ways by which the people were contaminated by lead.

Caption of one of the photos partly states that more than 3,500 affected children required urgent, life-saving treatment.



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