Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Limited capacity of a state

This tragedy has been in the news now and again for several years, but you probably haven't heard of it. There are so many tragedies in Nigeria. There's been little improvement in people's lives in spite of the work of Human Rights Watch. It would be difficult to find a clearer example of the limited capacity of a government than this. And, in the Nigerian context, it's an illustration of the desperation leading to things like the terrorism of Boko Haram.

Child Lead Poisoning Crisis
Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages remain contaminated two years into the worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history…

The state of Zamfara

Artisanal gold mines are found throughout Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria, and high levels of lead in the earth and the use of rudimentary mining methods have resulted in an epidemic of lead poisoning among children…

Lead Poisoning and Gold

“Zamfara’s gold brought hope for prosperity, but resulted in death and backbreaking labor for its children,” said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “People living in Zamfara State should not have to trade their lives, or their children’s lives, for the chance to mine gold and make a living.”…

In late 2011, the Zamfara State government took an important step when it put together a clean-up team, Human Rights Watch said. The team is now cleaning up the largest and most contaminated village, Bagega, which is estimated to have at least 2,000 children in need of treatment. However, the scope of contamination in the region requires a sustained and comprehensive effort that will be difficult for the state government to manage without adequate funds, personnel, and expertise…

From Mine to Market: Here's how gold from the Nigerian state Zamfara reaches the worldwide market.
The ore is bagged and brought by motorcycle to villages like Dareta or Sunke, where villagers grind the ore and then wash the mix over a ridged board. Villagers who do the processing themselves then use mercury to extract the gold…

The gold is driven to the Benin border and turned over to dealers from the port city of Cotonou.

The dealers then sell this gold to wholesalers from Europe and the Middle East, who in turn introduce that gold to the worldwide market.

Read more about how artisanally mined gold from Nigeria reaches the world market

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