…communities suffer as Corporate Social Responsibility takes a backseat
IN the heart of Zambia, the town of Kabwe is grappling with a severe lead poisoning crisis that demands immediate attention and accountability.
The alarming levels of lead contamination in the region have left a devastating mark on the health and well-being of its residents, especially children and former miners.
The American giant and multinational mining company Anglo American Corporation is under increasing scrutiny for its role in the environmental catastrophe of epic proportions.
Kabwe, once a thriving mining town, has been plagued by lead poisoning since the closure of the state-owned Kabwe Mine in 1994. Despite the mine’s closure, the toxic legacy left behind has cast a long and forlorn shadow over the town, with high concentrations of lead in the soil and water.
Studies have shown that the lead levels in Kabwe exceed safe limits, leading to severe health issues, particularly among children who are more vulnerable to the toxic effects.
“My daughter has major health problems because of lead poisoning since she was in primary school. We realised she was suffering from lead contamination after tests that were provided at a local clinic, Kasanda Clinic.
My child has challenges in school because she literally does nothing at school. She has decided to opt of school as a result. We have been referred to bigger hospitals in Lusaka, but we cannot afford these expenses,” said one of the affected parents.
The burden of responsibility falls heavily on Anglo American Corporation, which operated the mine for decades before its closure. The company’s historical involvement in the region demands a thorough investigation into the extent of its contribution to the lead poisoning crisis.
The adverse effects on the local population, including developmental delays, cognitive impairments, and other serious health issues, cannot be ignored.
Local advocacy groups and affected communities are now demanding that Anglo American takes immediate action to address the crisis and provide reparations for the impacted residents.
The company’s corporate responsibility is under scrutiny, as it cannot shirk accountability for the long-term consequences of its mining activities in Kabwe.
The Zambian government must also play a pivotal role in holding Anglo American Corporation accountable and ensuring that the affected communities receive the necessary support.
Anglo American Corporation is back on the Copperbelt province, doing prospecting and exploration works for future mining. The corporation is also involved in mining activities at Mingomba Mine under Konkola Copper Mines in Chililabombwe.
The concern is that Anglo American Corporation is back to pollute and contaminate the environment yet again.
In view, of this, regulatory measures must be strengthened to prevent such environmental disasters in the future and to hold Anglo American Corporation accountable for the consequences of their operations.
Anglo American Corporation’s commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility must extend beyond mere rhetoric and the focus on profits.
The company should actively participate in comprehensive environmental remediation efforts in Kabwe, invest in healthcare and educational programmes for affected communities, and engage in transparent communication about its actions and plans.
“I’m not sure of the status of my health after the lead contamination when I worked as a miner under the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines in the 1990s. I used to have problems going to the toilet.
I had to buy my own milk and when I couldn’t afford, I had to drink a local opaque beer called Chibuku so that my stomach can loosen up. Our situation is severe and there is no help from the companies that caused the lead poisoning in Kabwe,” said Mr Jack Musole Kabinda.
In the court of public opinion, Anglo American’s reputation is still at stake. The international community is watching closely, and the company must demonstrate its commitment to ethical business practices by addressing the Kabwe lead poisoning crisis with urgency and responsibility.
Anything short of a robust and comprehensive response will only deepen the wounds of a community already suffering from the devastating impacts of corporate negligence.
We could not get comments from representatives in Anglo American by press time.