Nigeria’s Youth Climate Action Network and U.S.-based Human Rights Watch have launched a social media campaign to demand that promised funding for the clean-up of lead-contaminated areas in Zamfara State be released.
The organizations are urging people to post comments to President Goodluck Jonathan’s official Facebook page, asking him why the clean-up funds have not been released as he promised.
“More than 400 children in Zamfara State have died from lead poisoning according to official estimates,” said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless the promised funds are released immediately, cleanup of the contaminated areas won’t be able to start until after next year’s rainy season, leaving thousands more children at risk of death and permanent disability.”
In May, the government pledged close to US$5 million to clean up areas that had been contaminated with lead during artisanal gold mining operations because of high levels of lead in rock ore. The funds were also to be used to put safe mining practices into effect, such as introducing processing equipment that reduces the risks of lead exposure.
“The Nigerian government’s failure to produce promised funding to address the worst lead poisoning outbreak in modern history is leaving thousands of children to die or face lifelong disability,” the Nigerian Youth Climate Action Network (NYCAN) and Human Rights Watch said today.
VIDEO: The Killer Gold in Zamfara state
Human Rights Watch sJoseph Amon speaks on what the Nigerian government should be doing to clean up Zamfara state