Saturday, 15 September 2007

Kabwe one of the ten worst polluted places

A study by the Blacksmith Institute found Kabwe to be one of the ten worst polluted places in the world due mostly to heavy metal (mostly zinc and lead) tailings making their way into the local water supply:

Kabwe, the second largest city in Zambia, is located about 150 km north of the nation's capital, Lusaka, and is one of six towns in the Copperbelt, once Zambia's thriving industrial base. In 1902, rich deposits of lead were discovered there. Mining and smelting commenced soon after and ran almost continuously until 1994 without addressing the potential dangers of lead contamination. The mine and smelter are no longer operating but have left a city poisoned by debilitating concentrations of lead dust in the soil and by metals in the water. In one study, the dispersal in soils of lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc extended over a 20 km radius at levels much higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization.

A small waterway runs from the mine to the center of town and has been used to carry waste from the once active smelter. There are no safeguards or restrictions on use of the waterway and local children use it for bathing. In addition to contaminated water, dry, dusty, lead-laced soils near workers' home are a significant source of contamination for the locals. Most workers and residents are exposed to toxic levels of lead through inhaling dust in these areas.

In some neighbourhoods in Kabwe, blood concentrations of 200 µg/dl or more have been recorded in children and records show average blood levels of children range between 50 and 100 µg/dl. On average, children's blood lead levels in Kabwe are 5 to 10 times the permissible EPA maximum and in many cases are close to those regarded as potentially fatal. Children who play in the soil and young men who scavenge the mines for scraps of metal are most susceptible to lead produced by the mine and smelter.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Stevia

While there is little doubt that stevia is going to be the next big thing in non-sugar sweeteners, I wonder: Could stevia become a source of income for rural Zambia? Or is the climate in Zambia too hot or too arid for growing this sweet herb?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Wikipedia

Wikipedia has the following relevant articles:

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Blog Africa

Blog AfricaBlog Africa, now a part of Global Voices, has a listing of Africa-related blogs. Anything posted to any of the blogs in the aggregator will end up on the main page of BlogAfrica and in the rss feed BlogAfrica offers as output.

If you are blogging from an African country or about African issues, you could request that your blog be included in the aggregator.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Breaking bones

As I strolled the town centre last sunday morning, I passed through Broadway which is a haven of street kids. I came across agroup of them fast asleep (they were about twelve) and they were sprawled all over like they had been knocked out by something. Two of them, a bigger boy and a smaller one were fighting over a bottle of bostik glue. Apparently the bigger boy wanted to grab the bottle from the smaller one who wasn't willing to give it away without a fight. So I inquired what the fuss was all about because it wasn't a worthy fight considering the stuff was suicidal.

They answered, “You see, uncle, the guys sleeping here can't wake up even if you shoved them about.” I asked why that was so and he went to say that they are unable to sleep during the night because it's so cold that you feel like your bones are breaking. He said bostic was the only thing that was keeping then warm and once it ran out, you were a goner. Try cuddling or putting on any form of warm clothing and it doesn't work. Fires are inviting policemen so we are doing away from them. We have to sleep low i.e. in hiding so basically we sleep in trenches or run down buildings were the police can't reach us. It's cold and it's the worst part of the year cos we long for warm shelter. Government is not doing enough for us cos even their program to send us to skills training camps is not suitable for us so we have no option but to run away. Uncle, you should try by all means to find a way out for us because we are willing to take up progressive programs.

I looked him deep in the eyes and asked him to convince me by quitting sniffing at bolstic. He grinned and assured me that once things became ok for him, he will quit. We made a deal. I looked at the other guys. They were still sleeping. I sadly bade farewell and moved on.