World Bank lead remediation loan, bad debt for Zambia

 World Bank lead remediation loan, bad debt for Zambia

By Staff Writer
CSO Lead consortium in Zambia has urged the New Dawn Government to negotiate with World Bank for the cancellation of a loan for Kabwe Lead Remediation under the Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP).

CSO Lead Consortium in Zambia Director, Eugene Chibilika said he is not satisfied with the implementation of the loan describing it as bad debt. 

He was speaking during the Lead Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue in Kabwe organised by the Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) through the ‘Truth Be Told Campaign’. 

During the CEJ Lead Dialogue, a Civic Leader in Kabwe stated that she was concerned that health authorities were not issuing out results after testing school children for lead exposure. 

David Ramushu Ward Councillor, Yvonne Muntemba said parents in her area were shocked that the exercise by the Ministry of Health ended at testing only.

Meanwhile, Lead Exposure Expert and Phyla Earth Director Dr. Benjamin Warr said it was sad that investors knew that they were poisoning the environment when ordinary people were clueless.

Dr Warr blamed environmental regulators that allowed innocent people to be exposed to lead poisoning when they could have done something.

The Ministry of Health in Kabwe pledged to follow up on the matter after Kabwe District Administrative Officer, Kennedy Pezo guided them to provide answers.

Twenty-five years after the mine closed, high lead levels, exceeding international standards, remained in the soil.

Areas affected by dust from lead around the former mine are Kasanda, Makandanyama, Chowa, Mutwe-wansofu, and Makululu.

The former mine area itself still hosted tailings and other waste from the mine and smelter, including a large waste dump known locally as “black mountain,” and has become a site for artisanal and small-scale mining.

In 2016, the World Bank-funded $65.6 million loan to the Zambian government to implement a Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP), which aimed at reducing environmental health risks  in critically polluted mining areas. The project specifically targets the communities living in Chingola, Kabwe, Kitwe and Mufulira municipalities, including lead exposure in Kabwe municipality.

Alice Nachilembe

Alice Nachilembe is a Journalist who yearns for a better country with leaders being accountable to their mandate without oppressing the governed.