DAPP with funding from the German organization Sign of Hope has embarked on a project to contribute to reducing the effect of lead contamination among children of Kabwe through effective mobilization and behavioral change advocacy.
More than one third of the population of Kabwe, over 76,000 people, live in lead-contaminated townships. Studies estimate that half of the children in these areas have elevated blood lead levels that warrant medical treatment. This has a detrimental effect on the children and affects their physical and mental development.
Kabwe was home to a lead mine from 1904-1994. During that period, smelter fumes covered much of the surrounding soil with lead dust. Twenty-five years after the mine closed, high lead levels, exceeding international standards, remain in the soil and dust around the former mine, particularly in the townships of Kasanda, Makandanyama, Chowa, Mutwe Wansofu, and Makululu. The mine was recently re-opened and the new owners are committed not to increase the contamination but are not able to clean what happened centuries ago.
People are affected by the lead through inhaling dust, for example when children play on the dust roads.
The project has started to engage the children and youth themselves as advocates and activists. Activities include awareness raising, planting of trees as wind breaks and grass to reduce dust in the yards around people’s homes. Community nurseries have been established with over 24,000 seedlings raised and planted to date. A total of 1000 trees are planned to be planted on the main areas next to the “Black Mountain” to reduce the dust moving from there into the townships.
The project is further improving 4 public safe playgrounds for the children. These are playgrounds where healthy soil has already been placed on top of the polluted soil.
The project is implemented in close cooperation with Civil Society Organization’s and key line ministries with focus on the Local Government, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services as well as Ministry of Health.