Lead is in the air! (the lead pollution in Kabwe)

It finally looks as if the roads in Kabwe town center are being sorted out! After months and months, actually years, of dust and pot holes we might just have newly tarred roads soon. Road works got started long ago, a contractor got the job to rip out the old tar and grade the roads in preparations for new tar. But in came a new government in 2011 and whatever the previous government had touched got put under investigation. This put everything on halt. The rains came and went and all the grading was undone. So whoever got the new contract had to start all over again.

Unfortunately Kabwe can pride itself as the most polluted town on the continent, thanks to the lead in the soil from the now closed lead mine. And as it is in the ground the lead pollution is kept, you would think that dust in this town would be a big issue. Well, it seems not, as little has been done to control the dust or to speed up the road works. It just struck me the other day that how much lead have I inhaled? Enough to cause lead poisoning? It doesn’t help that it’s really dry and windy this time of the year, so just a short walk in town center is enough for dust to make its way in to your hair, eyes, and inevitably your lungs. If our local politicians cared just one bit, we would have seen awareness campaigns, calls for road works to speed up, preventative measures to bind the dust in the meantime (not enough with one truck spraying water once a day in this heat). But it’s as if the lead problem has been completely forgotten about. Hopefully the roads will be done before we’re all poisoned with lead in our lungs!

Can’t even remember how long it’s been like this!
Road works in Kabwe town center.


13 thoughts on “Lead is in the air! (the lead pollution in Kabwe)

  1. Elina,

    This is wonderful work you are doing. If you could, please sign the petition at http://www.oaus.org/skull about the return of the Broken Hillman Skull to Zambia.

    Also, I would like to keep in touch just in case in the future we can collaborate on some projects in Kabwe. Please feel free to contact me with the details provided.



    1. Nice to see there is some action at last. Such a pity that many politicians have a personal agenda and not one that is purely philanthropic. Building the nation is also self building in every way and not just “what’s in it for me” Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:16:19 +0000 To: keithgrayxyz@hotmail.com

      1. I agree, and many times it’s that “personal agenda” that halts development!

    2. Hi Vincent! Thanks for your comment. I have heard about the issue with the broken hill mans skull. I’ll sign, but I also know that at this point zambia does not have the proper facilities to store such an old skeleton. Are you based in kabwe? Sure, we can keep in touch regarding projects.

      1. You are right Elina, the issue of storage for Broken Hillman is the main reason although British official don’t want to come out in the open and say that. However, I tend to agree with the view that Zambia has the facilities, I just don’t know if there is enough qualified personal that can take good care of the fossil. I’m based in the United States and planning on sending you an email so we can chat in detail regarding the project.

  2. According to Berkley mineral the roads in Kabwe area are all well paved. If Kabwe mine tailings get processed then the lead pollution problem will be reduced. So what is happening on the ground at the mine site is there any actual work in progress. Photos of that area that are current would be interesting to a lot of people who have an interest in the area and what BMR says it is doing to help the general population of Kabwe in the way of employment and reduction of pollution

    1. Hello and thank you for your comment. I’m afraid one has to look hard to find a “well paved road” in Kabwe. I only know of some Chinese mining firm going through old mine waste, then again, it’s not quite my area. I know that the worst affected area is Makululu, a huge slum near the mine where there’s only dusty gravel roads. Many in that area suffers from the effects o lead poisoning.

      1. Hi Elina !Berkley Mining Company have recently donated an ambulance to the town of Kabwe and I think helped with education. They intend to clear up the lead mining dumps (called tailings) in order to extract the lead and reduce the pollution by the removal of various minerals. They have to comply with what is called EIC( Environmental Inpact Control)and will be monitored by the State on a constant basis. Many private people have invested in this project and especially as well as a return on the investment (hopefully,) the bonus will be better living condition for people who the state in the past has let them down by not having a monitor policy in for, plus jobs for at least a period of more than years.This period will be a chance for the towns people to make plans for he town. The better education will also we hope give the up and coming citizens more command over their environment. Too long Africa in general had been exploited without the indigenous postulation enjoying any of the fruits of the profits from the mining operators. New methods of extraction mean lessening any chance of pollution hence the EIC. Regards

      2. Hello and thank you for that information. I don’t think the public knows much about what goes on at the old mine site. That’s great that the pollution can be reduced. I hope that is the future for the mining industry, where both the local people and environment is seen to. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s looking up for kabwe 🙂

      3. if you wish I could keep you up to date on movements og Berkley Minerals as we are given them but info is very sketchy at present and some down right contradictory from what they say would take place and when. Hence any info from anyone on the ground would certainly be helpful. Are you a born Zambian or sort of immigrant? -Regards Keith

        Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 05:36:04 +0000 To: keithgrayxyz@hotmail.com

      4. Hi Elina !Today a very large doc from the World Bank was posted on the Berkeley Minerals Investor site of London Stock Exchange. For a brief information gathering insight as to what had happened just scan initial info on money proposed to give to Zambia at that time then go straight to page 10 to see the Beneficiaries- ( Kabwe being mentioned). First look at money proposed to give to Zambia to clean up mining pollution in general . Then got to page 4 and 5 to see how problems arose. to be blunt poor ACZ ( Environmental Council of Zambia) and weak management etc at the bottom of the page you will see problems that arose and how probably thinks were already starting to unravel. pages 11 -15 show generally that key positions in the management structure of various departments that should have dovetailed and engaged smoothly was not happening. It also remarks that though the local population was supposed to be involved it appears on the face of it generally they were kept in the dark. You may l ike to go through it and see what an absolute fiasco it appears to be. I don’t know if it will mentioned if the rest of the money from World Bank had the plug pulled on it cos Zambia was incapable of handling it properly. Quite typical historically of many parts of the African Continent that have been give aid without outside supervision to make sure it works. More than that I an not prepared to say. One can only draw their own conclusions It appears that it is not that the Western Nations are not amenable to help in a monetary way but how the aid id used and distributed. In fact when we get to know about it, quite frustrating actually. Regards Keith

        Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 05:36:04 +0000 To: keithgrayxyz@hotmail.com

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