The next Zambian government should urgently clean up the lead pollution that has affected the health of tens of thousands of children and adults in the town of Kabwe, six organizations said, following the publication of a letter from United Nations experts on the matter.
Ahead of the general elections scheduled for August 12, 2021, Human Rights Watch, Advocacy for Child Justice, Caritas Zambia, Children’s Environmental Health Foundation, Environment Africa Zambia and Terre des Hommes, have urged the government of President Edgar Lungu to take action. urgently needed to tackle the toxic threat and ensure the health, safety and well-being of the people of Kabwe.
In 2020, human rights lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Anglo American on behalf of more than 100,000 people in Kabwe district who were allegedly poisoned. The lawsuit alleged that much of this toxic legacy came from the five decades between 1924 and 1975, when the Kabwe lead mine was at least a partially owned Anglo asset.
The applicants, mostly young children, suffer from alarming levels of lead poisoning which, depending on a variety of factors, cause a range of significant conditions. These include psychological, intellectual and behavioral damage, severe and permanent physical damage to their organs, neurological systems and fertility. In extreme cases, severe brain damage and death.
View of a former mine shaft, now flooded, on the former Kabwe mine site. In the foreground, an area where artisanal miners still work today (archive photo).