Washington, D.C., April 23, 2009 - Marc Ona Essangui, an occasional
reporter for the Voice of America's (VOA) French Service in Gabon, has
won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for exposing government
contracts that could damage the country's environment.
"I have brought to light contracts for exploration and exploitation
of the country's minerals, lumber and oil," said Essangui, who was in
Washington to accept the $150,000 prize, along with five other
Essangui, who founded Brainforest (www.brainforest.org), a non-
governmental organization, exposed a contract between Gabon and the
Chinese company, CMEC, to allow for the mining of iron ore. The
project, signed without an environmental impact statement, could have
affected a large section of the Ivindo National Park, part of the Congo
Additionally, CMEC began constructing a road through the park.
Essangui's efforts have helped lead to a renegotiation of the contract
and the cessation of some activities.
Essangui, paralyzed and wheelchair-bound since he contracted polio
when he was five, has been harassed and jailed during his career. He
started his journalism career at a radio station in Libreville, Gabon's
capital. He also writes for a newspaper and publishes articles on his
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multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S.
Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts
approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and
cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of
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