A special double-bill on planetary health and power inequity from DRC and Sierra Leone
The Cost of Cobalt (2021)
Directed by Fiona Lloyd-Davies and Robert Flummerfelt, 25 mins
In the cobalt mining areas of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), babies are being born with horrific birth defects. Scientists and doctors are finding increasing evidence of environmental pollution from industrial mining which, they believe, may be the cause of a range of malformations from cleft palate to some so serious the baby is stillborn.
More than 60% of the world’s reserves of cobalt are in the DRC and this mineral is essential for the production of electric car batteries, which may be the key to reducing carbon emissions and to slowing climate change.
In The Cost of Cobalt we meet the doctors treating the children affected and the scientists who are measuring the pollution. Cobalt may be part of the global solution to climate change, but is it right that Congo’s next generation pay the price with their health? Many are hoping that the more the world understands their plight, the more pressure will be put on the industry here to clean up its act.
The New Boats (2022)
Directed by Lansana Mansaray (Barmmy Boy), 49 mins
The New Boats is an investigative documentary that presents an eye-opening look at the impact of international industrialized fishing in West African waters and its disastrous effect on local communities at a critical point in Sierra Leone's history.
The village of Tombo is one of the largest artisanal fishing ports in Sierra Leone - providing nearly 90% of the protein eaten in the country.
Tombo had flourished in the Freetown Peninsula since pre-colonial times but in recent decades this prosperity has been on the decline due to an influx of Asian trawlers overfishing on its shores with clandestine support from corrupt officials.
As a result, local fishermen of all ages are frequently forced to abandon life in Tombo and migrate in search of work. The women of the village have also lost their traditional livelihood, processing the catch and selling at market.
Sulaiman Kamara and other local fishermen are passionately advocating on behalf of Tombo, in a desperate attempt to prevent an environmental disaster with West African fisheries on the brink of collapse.
Tues 23 August 19:30 AEST (10:30 BST):
This event was moderated by Dr Seye Abimbola, University of Sydney. Seye will be joined by The Cost of Cobalt director Robert Flummerfelt, and executive producer Fiona Lloyd-Davies and Dr Mahdokht Shaibani, research fellow, Monash University.
Unfortunately there was a power outage in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and The New Boats director Barmmy Boy was able to join us only briefly; here's the replay: