ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

"We are the voice of the community."

Christopher Nkhata, 44, is married with eight children and lives in Kankoyo Township, Mufulira District. He is Chairperson of ActionAid's partner organisation 'Green and Justice', which supports the community to engage the government, media and Mopani Copper Mines over issues that the community are facing as a result of living adjacent to the mine.

I used to be a teacher but the mines pay more than teaching. It was good money and I had four years of training.  I first broke rocks underground and was then shown how to blast. 

The company had an interest in me and provided me with more training to enable me to become a shift boss so I had responsibility for the safety of the men.

I was retrenched in 2008 due to the copper crunch crisis. I now make less than the direct Mopani employees as I work as a contractor.

Mopani should plough back money into the community and should employ people directly in order to help the people in the community. There is exploitation.

We get our water from underground but in 2008 there was acid flow into the water. There was no investigation and nothing in the media so we organised ourselves to make a group and ActionAid heard our cry. We want to sue Mopani for the dirty water but have no funds.

File 25854Kankoyo Township, Mufulira District.

There is tax that they are paying to the government but is it coming back to the community? Good question.  You see how our sewer lines are broken and the roads are bad.  Mopani should do something for the community here.  They constructed a road for their benefit so they can move the trucks. 

I have not seen their headquarters but I know it is a giant, well established company. Even establishing a clinic would be good to help people with chest diseases.  They have sulphur in their eyes and some children are not able to sleep properly – they know the pollution is everywhere.

Mopani say they are paying something to the government.  The government is supposed to come to our aid.

The water from the plant is not treated before it goes into the stream.  The concentrate from the plant is another major source of pollution – it is thrown on the outskirts of Kankoyo and rain drops on it so it goes into the stream.

We need a proper dialogue with the government so they can hear our voices but access is very difficult. We are the voice of people in the community.