Not only did the lead contamination (from makeshift, at-home gold ore processing) kill and permanently disable hundreds of children, it poisoned the soil and water–water used by nomads and their livestock, killing cows and goats. The soil in Bagega, reaching up to 100,000 parts per million of lead, has 10 to 20 times the US’s maximum lead level in soils (400 ppm). So even if the climate became amenable to reliable crop harvests in the future, much of the topsoil has been removed (see photo above) and what soil remains may still be toxic. Certainly, the mining is driven by desperation (and potentially greed); but once the soil and sky have prevented you from feeding your family, perhaps you lose respect for, or even develop animosity toward, nature.
With the recent conclusion of a five and a half month cleanup, Doctors Without Borders will now begin to treat affected children. This comes three years after Doctors Without Borders uncovered the illegal gold mining in this very remote village. A lack of funds from the Nigerian government delayed the clean up. To read the Associated Press article click here.