ZMERIP targets Kabwe schools in Lead hotpots for environmental remediation

Ministry of Mines Geologists working at Mine Primary School during the pilot remediation exercise-1

The Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP) under the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development has started environmental remediation work at Mine Primary School in Kabwe’s Mutwe Wa Nsofu township in a bid to combat Lead exposure among school-going children.

The school, which is in the vicinity of Black Mountain, is among the schools earmarked for environmental remediation where the project will pave part of the yards, drill boreholes and overturn the soil so as to reduce Lead exposure in schools.

Speaking during the pilot exercise at Mine Primary School yesterday, ZMERIP National Coordinator Mr Gideon Ndalama says the project decided to remediate the schools first because children spend a lot of their time there and are most vulnerable as most of the school yards are not paved.

“Inhaling of Lead contaminated dust is one of the main sources of Lead exposure in children and so by suppressing the dust is one of the many ways we can protect children from Lead poisoning”

Mr Ndalama also said the project decided to sink boreholes in the schools because erratic water supply made it difficult to water the ground or even water the grass to suppress Lead dust.

“We know that water is a very big challenge in most schools and by sinking these boreholes we want to make sure that the schools have a constant supply of water to keep the school yards green and reduce Lead exposure.”

Mine Primary School Head Teacher says he was grateful that ZMERIP had picked his school for the pilot remediation exercise.

“I am grateful to the project that they picked Mine Primary School because as you can see we are close the Black Mountain and we have high levels of Lead here and we well know the effects of Lead on our learners. I know that by the time this exercise is complete, our learners will be less exposed to Lead.”

Asked how else the school is fighting Lead contamination, Mr John Chinyenge said the school has awareness programs to teach children about the dangers of Lead.

“We have a program called Health Talk, where the Lead issues are number one on our agenda. We teach the children how to avoid Lead exposure by washing their hands and dusting themselves off after playing.”

The ZMERIP is running a pilot remediation exercise called deep tilling where the Lead contaminated soil is overturned and the soil that is not contaminated comes on top.

The project recently conducted a soil sampling exercise in schools and public places to determine the Lead levels in the soil before embarking on remediation activities.

Story and picture by Hope Mkunte