“Sodom and Gomorrah” is the place called by vernacular, where tons of electronical waste are.Illegally imported waste from industrialised countries reaches the landfill in Agbogbloshie day by day. A huge slum has arisen. The inhabitants suffer.
Every year 40 million tons of electronical waste is produced by the world. One part of it ends up in Ghana. The country is popular for the collection, recycling, recovery, and disposal of electronical waste.
The history starts when the first used computers came to Ghana with an auxiliary programme Soon untrustworthy traders began to export electronical waste to Ghana under the cloak that the devices can be used further.
Besides the illegal import, there is another problem that has to be mentioned: The quantities of electronical waste continue to grow. Many companies manufacture their devices so that they break quickly. They do this on purpose, so the people are forced to buy new devices. The consequences of this business model are lots of garbage that can be avoided.
A violation against the Basel Convention
The approach of the industrialised countries infringes the “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal”, an international agreement dating from1989, stating that waste may only be imported into states where facilities for proper disposal exist. The only countries that have not signed the agreement are the USA, Haiti and Afghanistan.
No solution in sight
Many people including children work in Agbogbloshie and extract from the electronic scrap important materials like copper and aluminium. These materials are sent back to the industrialised countries afterwards. The separation of the recyclables is however inexpert. Oftentimes components are burned by open fires. Thereby toxic gases arise damaging the health of the workers. The Blacksmith Institute, an environment organisation, declared Agbogbloshie to be one of the most contaminated places in the world.
A suggestion from Ghana’s authorities was to demolish Agbogbloshie. In the year 2015, first measures were initiated. But the demolition carries the danger that many small landfills develop. That would be no problem solution, but a problem shift.
As conclusion, one can say that Agbogbloshie has two sides: the one side, there is the pollution and the suffering of the inhabitants. But on the other side, it should not be forgotten that the place has big economic potential. Besides many other precious metals, it is estimated that there are 300 tons of gold. Additionally, the place offers many people a job and thus a life perspective.
By: Marlene Schwäbisch