Agbogbloshie Dumpsite, Ghana
Site Name: Agbogbloshie Dumpsite, Ghana
Population Affected: 40,000+
Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Ghana’s capital, Accra, is one of the main hubs for electronic waste (e-waste) disposal in West Africa, particularly from old computers and computer monitors. Since the late 1990s, countries around the globe have been sending millions of tons of e-waste to be processed each year on the site, which is home to more than 40,000 people.1 Men, women, and a significant amount of children, with no protection, attempt to recover power supply housings, circuit boards, wires and small capacitors by crudely breaking, smashing or burning discarded circuit boards, cathode ray tubes, and other discarded electronics. After anything of value has been stripped away, the bulk is then dumped, untreated, into unlined pits and waterways. Other than the shards of broken glass and metals, the main pollutants come directly from the black smoke that reports say hover over the dump all day, everyday. The smoke is mostly from piles of copper cables that are lit on fire to burn the plastic coatings off. In order to keep the fires burning, old car tires are also added to the flames.
In 2009, PBS cited the Korle Lagoon as “one of the most polluted bodies of water on earth.”2 In 2011, the BBC reported that over seven million containers of e-waste are exported each year from the United Kingdom, alone.3 Many of the recyclers are young adults, with children scavenging in the area. Health effects already seen include lowered IQs in children due to lead exposure, nervous system diseases from mercury, and even effects from high levels of cadmium exposure.4 Elevated levels of toxins have been discovered in the soil and air, as well as in local water sources and food samples. Work has been underway since 2008 to introduce hand and mechanized wire-stripping tools.
1 “Time up for Sodom and Gomorrah”. Peace FM Online Ghanaian News. 4 September 2009. Available at: news.peacefmonline.com/news/200909/25988.php
2 Klein, Peter. 2009. “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground”, PBS/Frontline. Available at: www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html
3 BBC. 2011.“Britain’s e-waste illegally leaking into West Africa”. Available at: news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9483000/9483148.stm
4 ABC News. 2009. “U.S. Electronic Waste Gets Sent to Africa”. Available at: abcnews.go.com/GMA/Weekend/story