Zamfara state is situated in the far north-western Nigeria. The state was created in 1996 by the then military administration of General Sani Abacha alongside with five others namely; Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, and Nassarawa states. The main occupation of the people of Zamfara State is farming, that is why they have the slogan of “Farming is our pride.”
It is known that the discovery of natural resources worldwide ought to be a blessing. This is because when such natural resources are exploited, they are expected to bring in revenue to contribute to the development of host communities. However, in the case of Anka and Bukkuyum Local Government Area in Zamfara State, the reverse is the case.
The recent tragedy of the lead poisoning as a result of illegal gold mining activities of the local people that led to the deaths of about 300 people, mostly children at Yargalma in Bukkuyum Local Government Area and Dareta, Abare, Tungan Daji and Sunke all in Anka Local Government Area of the state is a huge calamity. The poisoning is said to have led to permanent inability of some men to perform their conjugal responsibilities while many women lost their pregnancies.
After several reports of the strange ailments sometimes which forced many victims to go to hospitals and clinics in the area, it was discovered that the local mining activities taking place in those localities were the cause of suspected strange diseases. It turned out that 163 lives were lost out of which 111 of them were children between the ages of 5 to 10 years.
As part of the international response to the lead-poisoning crisis linked to small-scale gold-mining activities, a medical crisis team was deployed as well a clinical follow-up of thousands of villagers who have been exposed to extremely high levels of lead in the soil and water.
Of 113 children initially tested in two villages, 84 percent had dangerously high blood-lead levels greater than 65 micrograms/dl. The CDC recommends public health actions at 10 micrograms/dl and studies have documented neurological effects, speech and hearing deficits, hyperactivity, behavior, learning, and other problems with blood-lead levels as low as five micrograms/dL.
Subsequent LeadCare II testing has helped to identify approximately 1,000 children with significantly elevated blood-lead levels and a CDC team arrived to determine if lead poisoning is also the cause of severe illness in 180 other villages.
With this discovery on the dangerous lead poisoning, it is necessary to call on the Federal and Zamfara State Governments and other relevant authorities to quickly move those affected villages to other safe places and full medical attentions. The areas should be evacuated and subsequently converted to full scale mining areas.
Bashir Idris Bichi
No 9 Hagagawa Qrtrs, Bichi LG
E- mail [email protected]