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Toxic Legacy from Kabwe Mine Needs Action by Governments, Donors, Companies

This June 5 is World Environment Day, which kicks off the “United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. Ecosystem restoration is about preventing, halting and reversing environmental damage. It is  hugely important  globally…
Children play in a backyard
News

Investigate Mama Fikile’s Murder and Bring Those Responsible to Justice

It is almost five months since an environmental activist, Mama Fikile Ntshangase, was gunned down in her home in Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal province, after raising concerns about a coal mine in the area. No arrests have been made. Mama Fikile had received…
News
Environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase was killed after her refusal to withdraw legal challenges to existing and future mining operations. While shocking, the killing of environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase is not surprising. …
Activists from mining communities protesting at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 24, 2018, KwaZulu-Natal © 2018 Rob Symons
News
“Where will we go looking for land? There isn’t any land left,” Elisabeth, a 24-year-old mother of four, asked me in 2016. She, along with other rural residents of the Serenje district of Zambia’s Central Province, was displaced seven years ago — some…
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News

International Lead Poisoning Week Highlights Need for Action

I met “David” and his brothers in the dusty township of Chowa in Kabwe. David, eight years old, is thin and small for his age. Sitting in their yard, his grandfather described his worries about David. He has problems in…
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News
“Henry” is thin and small for his age. The 10-year-old, his mum and I are sitting outside in the dusty, poor township of Waya in the Zambian city of Kabwe on a hot, dry afternoon. His mum, looking weary, describes their life…
Former Mine Pit in Kabwe, Zambia
News
Years have passed, but Kasuba* still remembers when she was tested for lead as a child of about 8. The World Health Organisation says that there is no safe level of lead exposure. But the amount of the metal in Kasuba’s blood was up to…
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News

Being Outside is a Health Risk for Some of Zambia’s Children

How did you first become aware of the problem in Kabwe? We learned about it from an environmental group several years ago but became interested in doing our own research after seeing a young person from Kabwe speak at a United Nations event.…
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News

Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalized

How did you find sex workers willing to talk about their work despite it being illegal in South Africa? It’s very difficult to gain sex workers’ trust without connections to people already actively supporting sex workers. For one, because their…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011
News

Left Destitute and Sick, Communities Defy Police Abuse and Threats to Assert their Rights

What changes for a community once a mine starts operating? Most mining in South Africa takes place in rural areas, where people live off the land and their livestock. Mining often forces people to leave the land they use for farming and grazing…
Coal mine in Somkhele viewed from Ocilwane village in Fuleni, KwaZulu-Natal. © 2018 Rob Symons
News

Activists in Lamu Challenge Power Despite Threats

Tell me about Lamu and the activists you spoke to. Lamu county is a beautiful, scenic tourist destination with long white beaches lined with palm trees and hotels and cafes catering to foreign and domestic tourists. The mostly-Muslim…
Residents and environmental activists  protesting against  lack of consultations and government failure to address environmental concerns in respect ofo the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project in Lamu island, Kenya, March 1, 2012.
News
The South African Human Rights Commission has released a scathing report on the damage mining in the country is posing to human rights. The conclusion paints a dark picture: "[T]he mining sector is riddled with challenges related to land,…
News

Commercial Farmers Abusing Rural People’s Rights

As activists and policymakers from across the globe gather in Washington D.C. for the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, it’s a good time to reflect on how commercial agriculture leaves peasants landless in Zambia. Esther M. (not…
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News
I had already heard many disturbing stories of violence by the time I interviewed Mercy Maina, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy.  Even so, what Mercy told me was truly disturbing. She said she was raped during the post-…
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News
Every few years, a journalist flies to Zambia to write an article about Kabwe, “the world’s most toxic town.” For more than a century, Kabwe was home to an enormous lead smelting plant that belched its dust into the air and poisoned the soil…
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News
“Is there no justice for rape?” asked Jane, a young woman from Nairobi’s slums. “If police, who should be helping us, can just rape women and nothing is done to them, what will prevent men from continuing to rape us?” Jane (not her real name)…
Kenyan anti-riot police fire tear gas in Kisumu, Kenya, August 9, 2017. © 2017 Baz Ratner/Reuters
News
President Uhuru Kenyatta two years ago announced a fund to help survivors of historical injustices in Kenya, including those who suffered gross human rights violations during the political violence of 2007-2008. Mr Kenyatta said…
Nafula K.,46, was gang raped together with three other women by four men in January 2008 while at an IDP camp.
News
A year ago, the Kenyan government finally announced a fund to help survivors of the widespread violence in 2007 and 2008 tied to the disputed presidential election. It was the first sign of hope for the hundreds of women who were brutally raped…
Kamene F. stands outside her house in a slum in Nairobi with her 7-year-old son born from rape.