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A quick glimpse of Agbogbloshie, Ghana's notorious e-waste graveyard, and one of the most toxic environments in the world

 

By Muntaka Chasant | 627 words | Reading time: 2 min

 

 

 Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana by Muntaka Chasant

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


 

Agbogbloshie, Ghana

 

Several studies, including the works of Richard Grant (1) (2), and Jack Caravanos (3), have closely examined the informal "urban mining" of copper and other rare earth metals from waste electrical and electronic equipments (WEEE) at the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, and their environmental and health implications for scrap workers and the city's population.

 

Agbogbloshie is located near the center of Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

 

What goes on inside the Agbogbloshie scrapyard from morning till night?

  

RELATED: Toxins From E-Waste Contaminate Food From Agbogbloshie

  

As earth's native metals deplete, futurists are starting to point to "urban mining" as the ultimate frontier in minerals exploitation. 

 

But while mechanical processes such as pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and biometallurgy are often used to recover precious and rare earth metals from e-waste in other parts of the world, young men at Agbogbloshie use crude methods (see photos & videos below) to remove plastic sheaths off copper wires, releasing a cocktail of highly toxic chemicals into the city's air.

 

See also: Agbogbloshie And Africa's Bulging Youth Population

 

Agbogbloshie is also Accra's largest open-air food market.

 

Why is Agbogbloshie Rated Among the Worst Polluted places on Earth?

 

Pure Earth (4) in 2013 rated Agbogbloshie among the world’s top ten most toxic environments, along with places such as Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear accident site in Ukraine, and Dzerzhinsk, Russia’s cold war-era chemical weapons manufacturing city, often described as the most chemically polluted city in the world.

 


 

Scavengers roam through the streets of Accra by foot with handcarts, picking electrical wires and e-waste, sometimes from households, where they pay a small fee in exchange for old and unused electronics and wires.

 

See also: Pictures: The Rwandan Genocide

 

The collectors resell these wires to intermediaries, who also resell them to scrap dealers inside the Agbogbloshie scrapyard.

 

The wires and e-waste are then turned over to burners (as pictured below) to use 'primitive' methods to recover copper. 

 

See also: Agbogbloshie and Air Pollution in Accra, Ghana

 

This has emerged as a major livelihood strategy in many developing countries, including Ghana.

 

The ''urban mined' copper are resold and exported into the global reprocessing system, where they are used in newer products.

 

Find out below why Agbogbloshie, Accra's largest open food market, is rated among the worst places on earth.

 

See also: Air Pollution Killing More People in Ghana

 

 Tangled cables and wires Agbogbloshie Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

Tangled cables and wires waiting to be harvested for copper. 

 

Agbogbloshie scrapyard, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie E-waste Ghana by Muntaka Chasant

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

  

See also: A Small Glimmer Of Hope Comes To Agbogbloshie

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Agbogbloshie scrapyard, Accra, Ghana/ December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Cooling down freshly harvested copper.

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM

 

Freshly harvested copper.

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Agbogbloshie e-waste urban mining Accra Ghana by Muntaka Chasant - ATCMASK.COM 

Even the smallest pieces count.

 

Agbogbloshie e-waste dump, Accra, Ghana/ November 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


Ghana's Sodom and Gomorrah by Muntaka Chasant

The nearby settlement where most of the e-waste workers live with their families.

 

Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana/ 18 December 2018 Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant

 


 

- More than 90% of the scenes in the two videos below were captured with a cell phone -

 

 

Agbogbloshie, Ghana - A short film

 


 

 

"Urban mining" in Accra, Ghana - A short film


 

 

See also: "Urban mining" and Air Pollution in Accra, Ghana

 

See also: "A Quick Glimpse of Ghana's "Sodom and Gomorrah" Slum

 

Please leave your comments below, and let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources


 

1. Grant, R. (2016). The "Urban Mine" in Accra, Ghana. RCC Perspectives, (1), 21-30. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/26241341 (Retrieved December, 2018)

2. Grant, R., & Oteng-Ababio, M. (2016). The Global Transformation of Materials and the Emergence of Informal Urban Mining in Accra, Ghana. Africa Today, 62(4), 3-20. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/africatoday.62.4.01 (Retrieved December, 2018)

3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290519876_Exploratory_Health_Assessment_of_Chemical_Exposures_at_E-Waste_Recycling_and_Scrapyard_Facility_in_Ghana (Retrieved December, 2018)

4. http://www.worstpolluted.org/docs/TopTenThreats2013.pdf (Retrieved December, 2018)

 

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