Surge in gold prices brings no change in fortune for Madagascar’s miners – by Nadene Ghouri (The Guardian – July 25, 2016)

Lack of investment and regulation means life is hard for the men, women and children panning for tiny fragments of gold along Madagascar’s river beds

Miandrivazo – A drumming sound reverberates across the bridge and over the valley: the gold panners are hard at work.

Dotted along the edges of a river bed are hundreds of people, rhythmically banging wooden poles into the red earth. They are gold miners “sampling” the dry soil for the precious metal. Crouched alongside them are other workers, carefully panning piles of earth through homemade metal sieves.

Maria, 45, holds out a plastic dish of earth. “See? Here it is.” She points to some tiny fragments of what looks like glitter. “Now we know there is gold in this spot, so now my husband will continue to dig deeper to see if we can find more. Maybe we will or maybe we won’t. With this work there is no guarantee.”

Maria’s 10-year-old son, Raoul, lies in the shade offered by a sapling clinging to the rock. She says she had to take him out of school after he developed epilepsy. “There is no one to look after him at home so he has to come here. It isn’t good for him to be in the sun all day but what can I do? If he has a seizure, he needs me with him.”

Raoul is not expected to work. But several other children are engaged in the same back-breaking labour as their parents. Younis, a father of two boys, aged nine and 13, who are driving poles into the ground next to him, explains: “This work is hard and we know it is not suitable for children. But what can we do?

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