When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

A Tree Planting Ceremony In Burundi
A Tree Planting Ceremony In Burundi
Gabby Bugaga

BUTIHINDA – Here in the northeastern mining region of Burundi, some green is starting to grow again. Having caused rampant deforestation and drought, mining companies are from now on required to plant trees in the areas they exploit.

Along the dusty road leading to Kamaramagambo, we can see several rocky slopes that for the first time in memory now have patches of green on them. Here and there, Eucalyptus trees are bringing back some green to the devastated mining zones.

According to some locals, the rains that had become rare events, have begun occurring more and more often. “Currently, all the associations that exploit the mines and the locals are organizing together in order to protect the environment by setting up plantings. Every season there are new green areas coming up,” says an official of a local mining association who asked to remain anonymous.

The planting program was launched five years ago, after some environmental officials raised the alarm. But only now are the results visible.

“In our town, every Saturday, local works are busy weeding the newly growing trees. All the hills which were overexploited are now covered with green”, assures the administrator of Butihinda, a municipality of the Muyinga province.

The price of being mineral-rich

The region of Butihinda is overflowing with minerals that have long been extracted by individuals miners and private companies. In the past, nobody bothered to respect the forests or the lands around the quarries.

“They used to work day and night without taking into account any environmental aspect!” remembers Mertus Maherezo, a senior official at the Environment Ministry.

According to 56-year-old Séraphine Mukamakare of Kamaramagambo: “the price of this uncontrolled exploitation fell on us… For the last 15 years, we have seen our region dry out."

The Burundi government is supposed to monitor the allocation of exploitation certificates, which lay out the norms that every organization or individual must follow, including a range of environmental safeguards.

But too often the norms were overlooked, often simply because of ignorance of the environmental impact. The government's response was to suspend exploitation until proper enforcement was applied.

“The aim of this measure is to allow mining while preserving the biodiversity in accordance with the international texts that Burundi has ratified," says an official at the Ministry of Energy and Mining. "Too many miners have no knowledge of these texts. But the respect of the environment is a condition for any work that has be done. Otherwise, imagine what the result would be in 20 years by continuing this way: a real desert!”

Today, the obligation to plant green spaces divides the miners. For some, it is a way for the current government to favor certain mining companies. Others welcome the measures as a way to make their activity sustainable in the long run.

Until now, income from the renewed mining has only totaled some $640,000. For economist Aloys Mupira, the returns are still quite modest compared to other sectors. "It would be wise to put more resources into this sector," says Mupira. "Then the state can start to see the economic benefits as well."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ