Soil and water pollution by gold panning: Phytoremediation technology, a depollution solution at your fingertips!

The SNV Dutch Development Organization and World Waternet (WWn) consortium launched, on April 29, 2022, the activities of component 2 of the Water project, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD) on the gold panning site of Nimbrogo in the Nahouri province. Through the phytoremediation technology developed by the Institute for Research in Applied Sciences and Technologies (IRSAT), the component works to restore the quality of water and soil degraded by chemicals. The integrated water resources management project entitled Eau, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD) is financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Burkina Fado to the tune of more than 12 million euros, i.e. approximately 8 billion CFA francs.

The activities of component 2 of the Water project, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD) were officially launched on April 29, 2022 in Nimbrogo, a rural town of Ziou in the province of Nahouri. This component consists of restoring water and soil quality using phytoremediation technology developed by the Institute for Research in Applied Sciences and Technologies (IRSAT).

According to the explanations of Dr. Martine Diallo/ Koné, researcher at IRSAT and responsible for the implementation of phytoremediation, the said technique is a technology for depolluting soils through the use of plants; There are several species of plants used for phytoremediation and the plant chosen for the experiment at Nimbrogo is Chrysopogon zizanioides, a space imported from South India. The process will consist of planting 2 hectares of this species on the site to be treated. Thus, the roots will remove harmful substances from chemicals such as mercury and cyanide used by gold miners.

The Researcher, Dr Martine Diallo/ Koné, Phytoremediation Manager at IRSAT

It is an inexpensive technique that can restore large contaminated areas: “Chrysopogon zizanioides adapts to harsh conditions, such as drought or bush fires. It is a plant that has a massive and very deep root system that eliminates soil pollution. It has a very good action on runoff water, facilitates soil fertilization because it brings organic matter and facilitates water infiltration. It has many virtues”, explained Dr Martine Diallo/ Koné. For a better result of the project, she invited the populations to get involved and to appropriate this technology by including it in their daily activities.

The population of Nimbogo welcomes with joy and hope, the project to restore soil degraded by artisanal mining

Aware of the merits of the project, the populations of Nimbrogo welcomed the initiative. For them, it’s a project that comes at the right time insofar as the use of chemicals is already beginning to have negative effects on animal health and certainly on human health as well: “We welcomed the project with joy and pride. We will work with the project managers to achieve the expected objectives. said the head of Nimbrogo, Naaba Souriguia.

The chief of Nimbrogo giving his discharge for the implementation of phytoremediation in his village, Nimbrogo

Just like the village chief, Karim Songtoa, chief of the gold panning site, says he welcomes the choice of the Nimbrogo site with joy. “We use cyanide but we are aware that these acts are prohibited. But since we have nothing to do, it is this work that allows us to feed ourselves and send our children to school. We welcomed the project because the cyanide we use kills our own animals. Plants will help us restore water and soil for the happiness of our brothers and sisters. We are willing to work with project stakeholders. “, he said.

ANEEMAS, support for the implementation of phytoremediation

The project is technically supported by the National Agency for the Supervision of Artisanal and Semi-Mechanized Mining Operations (ANEEMAS). According to its Managing Director, Jacob Ouédraogo, gold panning has reached worrying proportions in Burkina Faso in recent years. According to him, more than 1000 gold panning sites have been listed in Burkina by satellite images but 800 have been recorded by teams in the field.

More than 600 sites were in operation in 2018. Studies have shown that this activity produces between 9.5 and 25 tonnes of gold annually. The 9.5 tons are valued at 230 billion CFA francs. It is an activity that supports more than 2 million Burkinabè and more than a million direct players in artisanal mining.

The Coordinator of the ECDD project at WWn, Gislain Anselme Kaboré

(3rd from left)

Hence the need to supervise the sector on the one hand, and repair the damage caused on the other. “We welcomed this project with great satisfaction. One of our missions is to work to restore degraded sites due to gold panning. Until then, our strategy was to go through reforestation, planting trees in winter. Today, this new technology which is developed by IRSAT allows us to have a fairly resistant plant which will facilitate restoration by eliminating the chemical products that gold washers and artisanal miners use in their activities. Besides, the use of these products is certainly prohibited, but people go beyond the regulations,” confided the DG of ANEEMAS.

Explanations from the Project Coordinator at WWn, Gislain Anselme Kaboré, ECDD is funded by the Dutch Embassy for a period of 4 years, from 2020 to 2024. Its overall objective is to contribute to the resilience of populations in the territories. targets by increasing livelihoods and access to water, hygiene and sanitation services and, as an indirect impact, by contributing to the sustainable management of water resources and their domestic and productive use in fragile areas of watersheds in Burkina Faso.

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Name of plant species used

Chrysopogon zizanioides

Characteristics of the plant:

Herbaceous plant with a massive and strong root system

Non-invasive plant: absence of seed; reproduces by


Pest and disease resistant

drought tolerant plant

Perennial plant…

Other uses of the plant

Participates in soil fertilization

Reduces water runoff

Can be used as a live hook

Participate in the protection of the banks…

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