Alida Vanni

The gold fever

The search for gold in Burkina Faso is the new evanescent hope for young people emigrating from villages in search of a future.
Burkina Faso| ©Alida Vanni, 2019

This post is also available in: Italiano

Burkina Faso

Gold in Burkina Faso is the new evanescent hope for young people emigrating from villages in search of a future.
In Burkina Faso, The Land of Whole Men, 50% of the population is under the age of 14. Artisanal gold mining began as early as the late 1980s when local rural populations began to search for gold deposits to survive. Today, this activity continues but unlike in the early days, it is now carried out on a large scale.

Every morning dozens and dozens of people, including women and children, work around the mine area. Young people who were leaving the villages to cultivate cotton, peanuts, sorghum and rice started to migrate for this new type of activity. Miners lower themselves into the shafts with hand-powered winches to a depth of over 100 metres. From the ground, along the hole area, a plastic bag acts as a cone and allows them to breathe underground via a fan.

Mineworkers in Burkina Faso | ©Alida Vanni

The risks of gold mining in Burkina Faso

Safety and security devices are unfortunately still unknown. The work is dangerous, and the miners do not have any equipment to descend into the ground safely. In addition, the wells are fragile and the walls collapse easily. Outside the mines, miners sleeping on the ground do not go unnoticed. They are everywhere and their bodies are covered in dust from being underground for 8 to 12 consecutive hours.

The gain of a day is never specific because everything depends on the goodness of the stone extracted. You can scrape together just over one euro a day if it is good. If not, the amount drops dramatically.

The aim of all this? Only one: find the yellow metal and hope that today is the day of good luck so that you have some money to eat and one more day to live.

Text, Photos, Video: Alida Vanni 
Original text in Italian - In house translation
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
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Alida Vanni
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