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How Much Does Green Energy Cost The Children Of Congo?


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the leading producer of the world’s Cobalt- Mineral essential for the production of lithium batteries for electric vehicles. To combat the rapid climate change that is endangering human life as we know it and reduce carbon emission, cobalt is in demand for multinational technological corporations.


Scholars often consider the DRC as the Wakanda of our reality, as it possesses about $24 trillion worth of natural resources including the largest reserve of cobalt in the world. The demand for such minerals is only increasing due to the social, economical, and environmental shift towards greener and cleaner energy to power our planet.


In the Katanga region of the DRC where the extraction of cobalt occurs, the mining conditions are extremely dangerous and it is the source of income for many that live in the area. The mining fields are owned by the state or multinational corporations and are often adjacent to villages and towns. According to research done by Dr. Sebastien Mbuyi Musanzayi, a pediatric and maxillofacial surgeon in the DRC, the methods used to extract these minerals could be poisoning the environment and endangering the lives of the people and wildlife around it. Children are being born with birth defects at higher rates in the areas where there are vast mining fields.


A Cleft palate is a birth defect found throughout the world and can be associated with mothers’ exposure to environmental factors during their pregnancy. With the many cases of birth defects happening in the Congo, Dr. Musanzayi has been recording the geographical locations of families when they arrive at his clinic. Dr. Sebastien Mbuyi Musanzayi states from his findings that “there were links between mining activities and the occurrence of the orofacial cleft. for example, we found that fathers or mothers who are working in mining companies are sometimes three or four times at risk to have children with orofacial clefts”


There are several birth defects affecting the inhabitants of these mining regions. Some malformations are so severe that emergency surgery is required, whereas some of the babies cannot be saved due to the severity of their case. Nadine Ngulala Mbuyamba, a neonatal nurse from the University of Lubumbashi says, “there are lots of deaths from these malformations because many malformations appear with many others accompanying them.” The nurse also clarifies that upon arrival, parents fill out a questionnaire about their residence, and they are almost always from the mining regions.


As per Aljazeera, “Clinicians have been witnessing birth defects such as Spina bifida, organs outside the body, and neural tube defects where the brain has failed to develop.” Hospitals and clinics in the DRC are interconnected to alert Dr. Musanzayi’s office whenever there is a new case of malformation, and the research begins there.


Although cobalt is essential and found in our bodies for the development of red blood cells, and neurological development, overexposure to these metals does severely damage the body. The University of Lubumbashi’s department of toxicology has put together a small team of research scientists, led by professor Celestin Banza Lubaba Nkulkue, in collaboration with the University of Leuven in Belgium. Together, they have been studying the effects of this mining pollution for over a decade. According to Professor Nkulkue, “pollution is widespread throughout Katanga. Pollution is generated by the mining process, the way minerals are extracted from the ground because it creates dust that spreads in the environment which affects the populations”


The world is in dire need of cleaner energy for our collective well-being now and future. Further information about the process of these different resources is also essential for knowledge, education, and social understanding. 


*Lena Mucha Copyright All rights reserved*


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Tags: #Health #Congo #Children #Mines #Polution #TechDevices #GreenEnergy


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