Sunday, June 19, 2011
ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN MINING
The polluted world: Nyakalabe village!
Destruction of the environment is destruction of life. This was confirmed when the team from Corporate and Environment Unit under the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) visited Nyakalabe village in Geita near the Geita Gold Mine (GGM). On our arrival in the village we first met with a teacher who was eager to inform us on the environmental pollutions occurring in the area due to the present of the mining company with a condition that he remains unanimous.
The teacher who did not want his name to be disclosed due to being a civil servant informed the team of the dust that the villagers have to live with daily. The dust was witnessed by the team to be coming from the blasted hills from the mining. According to the teacher the dust has affected the “wanazengo” (meaning villagers of Nyakabale) to an extent that cannot use the rain water. The rain water has never been safe due being contaminated by the dust with chemicals coming from the roof tops of their houses. In Nyakalabe village and Geita in general until and unless it rains for more than one hour, rain water has never been safe. This is because during summer (dry) season the dust from Nyankanga and Geita hill moves to the village. This wind carries with it the dust containing chemicals from the mine to the roof tops of “wanazengo”.
The dust from the mines filled with chemicals does not only make the rain water unsafe for the villagers but also destroys the water sources in Nyakabale. Not even the natural water sources in the villages which are safe from the chemicals from the mining company. To villagers of Nyakabale these water sources have clean but not safe water says Mr. Siwajali Maliko. “Nine cows were killed due to drinking water from the bonds which had water mixed with chemicals from the mining,” Said the teacher. In additional to the above David Sylvester a resident of Nyakalabe village said there are times when the villagers were stopped from using water from the wells due to the dust with chemicals from the mine. There are times when the water in the wells became as white as snow due to the chemicals from the mine.
The Wanazengo (villagers of Nyakabale) in Geita near the Geita Gold Mine (GGM)) confirmed to the Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) team during their visit to the area how the environmental pollution in their area caused by the existence of the mine is affecting them. “As I was working I fell into water containing chemical from the mine” says Mr. Mbibi Nyarugole. A man who has been affected by water pollution in Nyakalabe village and until today he is not healed. A recent report from his son informs LHRC team that his father’s health condition is critical and that he may pass away any time soon.
David Sylvester a resident of Nyakalabe added that due to the air pollutions caused by the mine there have been high rate of occurrence of diseases. Mrs. Lucia Mathias a mother of 7children and a resident of Nyakalabe living near the mine informed the team that the dust and especially as they are blasting the hills to get the gold is really affecting them. This was confirmed when one day one of her child got sick and had problems in breathing for about a month. The same have been occurring to several other villagers something that was not there before the mine come into being. The dust from the mining has also led to increase of cough and flue occurrences in the area. Prior to the coming of the Geita Gold Mine (GGM), where now the mining activities are been carried out was a game reserve. In addition to that the area had natural trees as well as farming land for the residents of Nyakalabe. When mine started its operations where there were trees now there is bare land, where there were hills now here are bonds. People no longer have lands to farm, no places to graze cattle or even to correct firewood. The areas that were a source of their live hood have now been replaced by heaps of soil from the mines.” Mr. Abdulamana Sulemani Lusheke stressed.
The villagers said that there have been increased rate of deaths in the area comparing to the period before the mine stared its operations. Healthy wise the area is not fit due to water, air and noise pollution caused by the mine. The right to life has being defined to include the right to clean, safe and healthy environment. The people of Nyakabale have not only being denied the right to a clean, safe and healthy environment but also the right to life according to the above definition.
It’s time we save our environment, it’s time we save Wanazengo, it’s a duty we all have!
Kokushubila Kazanza-YET 2011