Nine-year-old Karim Sawadogo swings a pick at the bottom of a 40-foot pit at Kouékowéra.
In just a quarter century, Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has transformed itself into Africa’s fourth-largest producer of gold. But at what cost to the children who labor in the mines?
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Larry C. Price captures the story through this set of powerful photos from southwestern Burkina Faso, shot for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. These photos expose another side of the “resource curse,” a paradoxical condition in which countries that are blessed with abundant natural resources (such as oil, timber, precious stones and metals) are simultaneously heavily indebted, as most of their citizens live on less than $1.25 a day.
To maximize profits, entire families work. And this means putting children to work as child laborers. Gold fever shows no sign of ending. Leaders and entrepreneurs, eager to tap the vast reserves, often look the other way or even welcome the extra labor the children provide.
Thank you Mr. Price for generously sharing your photography with ONE.org. To see more of his work, visit his website here.
So, what has ONE done to end the resource curse? ONE members in the US and Europe have helped pass legislation that requires oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose the payments foreign governments receive for their natural resources. That way, a nation’s money can go toward meeting Millennium Development Goals like health care, schools and clean water – and not to the pockets of kleptocrats.