KABWE – More than four decades after the news broke about the illness caused by lead poisoning in Kabwe, Zambia, journalists dig deep to learn how victims' lives have changed since the World Bank provided $65 million in assistance to the Zambian government.

Kabwe Mine, formerly known as the Broken Hill Mine (‘the Mine’), which was alleged to have belonged to the Anglo-American Group for almost 50 years is reported to have caused the pollution that affected thousands of children and other residents. The company denied running the mine.

Recent findings by the journalists show that some generations of locals who were born prior to the mine's operation continue to be afflicted with lead poisoning.

Though the World Bank funding was also intended to help reduce the impact of lead poisoning on Kabwe, the journalist's investigation shows that the fund's positive impacts on the Kabwe community are rather limited — according to locals, "the activities to remediate the lead poisoning are still far from having the desired effects, with no possible solution to their situation in sight."

The people living in communities like Chowa, Waya, and Makululu that are residing near the mine location, continue to feel the impacts of lead despite the mine’s official closure decades ago.

Both the World Bank and the  Zambian government never responded to requests for comment.

As generations continue to suffer from the effects of lead poisoning, victims have persisted in waiting years for justice. Leigh Day, the UK legal firm defending the communities, and Anglo-America also replied to the requested comments.

Photo: Martin Vrba

Team members

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi is an investigative journalist from Nigeria.

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi

Cindy Sipula

Cindy Sipula is a freelance multimedia journalist and fact-checker based in Zambia.

Martin Vrba

Martin Vrba is an independent Czech journalist and essayist based in Prague.


Juliana Ruhfus

Juliana Ruhfus is an award-winning broadcaster and investigative journalist based in the UK.

Juliana Ruhfus

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.