World Bank gives Kabwe $16m for lead mitigation

World Bank gives Kabwe $16m for lead mitigation.

THE World Bank has given Kabwe district US$16 million for the implementation of lead remedial measures in the area.Kabwe town clerk Ronald Daka announced that the World Bank had funded the local authority to implement the programme.

He said in an interview that the World Bank funds were aimed at reducing lead contamination in most area to improve people’s livelihoods.

“We have finalised arrangements regarding the World Bank support to Kabwe to the tune of US$16 million. That one is purely for lead mitigation. In other words, those hot spots in Kabwe, which are contaminated with lead, there will be mitigation measures, there will also be improvement of livelihoods of the people that are affected. Areas that are largely affected are Makululu, then you come to Chowa, Kasanda and so forth,” Daka said. “The (World Bank) project has four major components. The component number one is of infrastructure development where you do the concrete lining of the main canal which traverses the town; through Makululu, Kasanda, Chowa and then it eventually drains out and so that is going to be concretized. And then greening of the area around the canal. Another major infrastructure is the construction of the landfill site. The landfill site we are referring to should be properly engineered landfill site, where waste can be properly separated and some of it should be processed into products.”

He said remedial work in Chowa had already started following a report released by Blacksmith Institute and the Green Cross which revealed high levels of lead contamination in Kabwe.

“Blacksmith or Pure Earth, you are aware they are already working in Chowa over the issue of neutralising the effects of lead, so that activity will also continue but now under the World Bank
support, we are also working at the issue of livelihood,” said Daka.

A 2013 report entitled Top Ten Toxic Threats, co-authored by the Blacksmith Institute and the Green Cross, highlighted the world’s most polluted places and the extent to which those living in
them are affected. It depicted Kabwe town as the seventh after Citarum River and Kalimantan, both of Indonesia; Norilsk, Russia; Hazaribagh, Bangladesh; Dzerzhinsk, Russia and Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Kabwe town’s toxic threats beat those of the Niger River Delta, Nigeria; Agbogbloshie, Ghana and Matanza-Riachuelo, Argentina which all are among the top ten toxic threats.

“The 200,000 plus inhabitants of Kabwe continue to suffer to this day as a result of past mining excesses. The city’s century-old lead
mining industry has perpetuated environmental pollution for nearly 90 years, so much so that the iron content in children’s blood levels overshoots recommended levels by as much as 1000 percent. Having said this, the mine is now closed and the Zambian government looks set on remediating the issue,” read the report on which the Kabwe council authorities based its decision to quickly raise funding for lead mitigation measure.

Meanwhile in November 2015, a senior hydro geologist from the United States, Gordon Binkhorst, who was in Kabwe to do some lead contamination mitigation measures in Chowa, said the soil contamination in the municipality was high and needed immediate attention.

He had then warned that the levels of soil contamination in Kabwe could retard brain development in children.

“Lead affects children in brain development and makes them a little dull and have much lower IQ. It affects mostly the children who touch the soil with their hands and put them in their mouth, so they ingest the lead contaminated soil. The levels of lead in the soil in Chowa township go up to 30,000 parts per million, the highest is near the canal and closer to mine. The level in clean laterite soil is 26 parts per million and 120 parts per million in black soil while the safe lead levels range between 400 and 1,000 parts per million,” Binkhorst had warned and hoped more resources and donors would come on board to help mitigate lead contamination effects on children.