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Men, women and children risk their lives in the middle of Ouagadougou

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Burkina Faso

In the middle of Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, men, women and children are busy working in an open air granite mine.

The rock is extracted from the bottom of the mine, carried to the top and then crushed before being sold.

The mine has no owner. 

"It doesn't belong to anyone. You can't say that this land belongs to someone. Now people are here to work but inside, down there, everyone has their own little corner to do their work. People remove the big blocks, take them out of the hole and break them to be able to resell them", said granite seller, Marcel Koala. 

The work is hard and the pay is often not enough to feed a family as explained by granite breaker, Abarat Nikiéma.

"I break rocks, it is a very difficult task. If I work from morning to night, I can earn, for example, a thousand francs. With this money I have to feed the children, pay for their school, it's really difficult. The work is hard and it is really pitiful. I've been here for 10 years and so far I can't get by, it's really pitiful". 

Accidents and injuries are also a common occurrence.

"Sometimes you see big injuries, sometimes the rocks hurt people, sometimes it hits the eyes, sometimes the hammer comes out and hits people. There are a lot of accidents and the slope is also slippery, people get hurt a lot here", said granite breaker Maxime Sidibé.

The mine has been exploited for the past 40 years.

The rock extracted will go to construction sites to make buildings, slabs or roads.

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