Unfortunately, the gold deposits in this part of Nigeria run alongside veins of lead. As miners crush the ore to process it, they release toxic lead dust into the air.
Some children showed up at health clinics with blood lead levels above 400, or 40 times higher than what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is a cause for concern.
The lead poisoning has caused cognitive and developmental delays in children. In severe cases, kids were going into convulsions and even dying.
An Idaho-based company remediated the soil in several villages in the state of Zamfara, but the money to clean up Bagega had been tied up in the Nigerian bureaucracy for more than a year.
Doctors Without Borders physicians have been treating only the most severe cases of lead poisoning from Bagega, saying that more widespread treatment would be futile if the patients immediately return to a contaminated environment.
Gayton says the release of the remediation money is a major step forward for helping these kids.
But the long delay has exacted a heavy toll. "By now the most vulnerable children are already dead," he says.