Women and Girls Living in Cobalt-mining Communities in the DRC Report a “Staggering” Rise in Serious Reproductive Health Issues


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By Bumba Mulenga, Zambia Monitor

DRC Cobalt mine
Artisanal miners work at the Tilwizembe mine, a former industrial copper-cobalt mine outside of Kolwezi in the DRC [9Aaron Ross/Reuters)

Women and girls living in cobalt-mining communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are reporting a “staggering” rise in serious reproductive health issues.

This includes miscarriages and birth defects, according to an investigation published by the UK-based human rights group Rights & Accountability in Development (Raid) and the Kinshasa-based NGO Afrewatch.

The report released this week showed that women and girls living around cobalt mines reported experiencing irregular menstruations, urogenital infections, vaginal mycoses and warts.

According to the report, “a paediatrician, who has been recording patients’ data since 2016, explained that the rates of genital infections and skin pathologies among female patients had exploded.

She believed this was because these populations were the primary users of ‘unclean water’, making them particularly vulnerable to diseases.”


Anaïs Tobalagba, a legal and policy researcher at Raid and the report’s lead researcher, told the Guardian: “One of the most striking findings that we discovered was the differentiated impact on women.

“We knew there had been research linking cobalt mining to reproductive health issues. But we did not know the scope of it until we began these interviews.”

Continue reading.

In the US, exposure to something else harms Black women.

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