Schoolgirls catch gold feverANKAVANDRA, 9 June 2011 (IRIN) - There is a touch of gold fever in the small western Madagascan town of Ankavandra and schoolgirls are being affected.
Rural poverty coupled with record world gold prices is proving an irresistible pull for young girls in and around Ankavandra who are being lured away from class and into the foothills of the central plateau area by the promise of a few flecks of gold.
Nearly every day a group of five girls, all related and aged 8-15, wake at dawn to begin a two-hour brisk walk up steep goat tracks to one of the many tributaries of the River Manambolo. As they draw closer to their destination their numbers swell to about 20 people, as parents with young children and other groups of girls, some appearing to be as young as five, join them.
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