Monday, 10 August 2015

Remediation Activities

Phase I remediation was an emergency response in the initial two villages (Dareta and Yargalma). MSF and ZMOH established village clinics and implemented treatment protocols. TG and ZMOE developed emergency remediation plans and protocol documents that could be implemented with resources available to the villages (von Lindern et al. 2011). Cleanup commenced in June 2010 and was suspended in mid-July due to the rainy season. The work was conducted by ZMOE with TG providing technical guidance. Funding and equipment came from Zamfara State, TG, Blacksmith Institute (BI), and MSF. Security and logistical support for the international remedial contingent were provided by the Zamfara State government and MSF. One hundred and forty-eight (148) compounds, resident to more than 2,100 community members, were remediated, allowing MSF to provide chelation treatment to over 100 children. By September 2010, the Phase I remediation together with the suspension and relocation of artisanal mining activities had reduced the average blood lead level of children entering treatment from 173µg/dl to 86µg/dL. 

Phase II remediation commenced in October 2010 with funding from the United Nations (UN) Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Zamfara State, TG, and BI. Phase II, also conducted by ZMOE with TG oversight, addressed five villages (Abare, Duza, Sunke, Tungar Daji, and Tungar Guru) resident to 6,385 people. An additional 1,277 children under age five years were identified as eligible for chelation treatment. Remediation activities were again suspended in March 2011, due to lack of funding and security concerns related to the Nigerian presidential election. During Phase II, further investigation by the CDC and Nigerian authorities suggested that artisanal gold mining was occurring in another 114 villages in three LGAs. Surveys of 74 of those villages found significant lead contamination in about one-half . Another study revealed water quality problems related to the mining activities (UNEP/OCHA 2010). Additional surveys conducted by TG and ZMOE found extensive mineral processing in Bagega Village, Anka LGA, with a population exceeding 7,000, including 1,500 children under age five at severe risk. An adjacent abandoned processing site (Industrial Area) had more than 8,700 cubic meters of high concentration lead waste extending into the main water reservoir serving the region. 

Phase II was followed by 18 months of advocacy encouraging the Nigerian federal government to complete the remediation. In February 2013, the federal government agreed to commence Phase III addressing Bagega. TerraGraphics International Foundation (TIFO), the non-profit humanitarian successor to TG, was retained to provide remediation oversight. Security protocols, TIFO logistics support, and all medical responses were provided by MSF. This third phase addressed a larger population and removed more contaminated waste than the combined Phase I and II efforts. Phase III included remediating 352 compounds and 54 common areas, rehabilitating the Industrial Area, and dredging the contaminated regional reservoir. Lead exposures were reduced for more than 7,000 residents; blood lead screening, medical surveillance, and chelation treatment were extended to an additional 673 children. Efforts are ongoing by the Nigerian governments and the affected communities to sustain the remedy and adopt safer mining techniques.

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