Agbogbloshie: An African E-Wasteland

When I imagine a wasteland I imagine that scene from The Lion King where Simba and Nala go off on an adventure and end up wandering through giant piles of elephant bones. I imagine a desert - void of vegetation and people. I imagine endless nothing. I certainly don't envision giant piles of computer parts and broken TVs. I don't imagine children searching endlessly in these piles for sought after scraps. I don't picture bundles of wires strewn about and people trying to find items to sell.

However, this is the reality in Agbogbloshie. The town is located in Ghana, Africa and was once a wetland, but it is now a popular dumpsite for e-waste. The locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah. It covers four acres and around 40,000 people live there. Fires and smoke litter the skyline and locals try to sell scraps to passersby. 

The conditions here are toxic. Much of the e-waste is hazardous to human health, especially children. Kids search through the piles with their bare hands and breathe in fumes that can damage the development of their brains, reproductive systems, and nervous systems. 

The area is home to much criminal activity, including drug dealing and prostitution. The living conditions lack sanitation and water.

The pollution from the both legal and illegal dumping of e-waste is far from okay. Levels of toxins have been tested to be 100x the allowed amount. Lead, mercury, and arsenic are just a few of the toxic poisons found here.

Agbogbloshie is why we need to start e-cycling. This e-wasteland is proof that we cannot dump our e-waste. We cannot allow more towns to become like this. It is unimaginable that people live like this. It is crucial that we recycle our old electronics. Dumping e-waste is unacceptable. Living conditions like those in Agbogbloshie is unacceptable. We are hurting the environment and we are hurting people.

It's time we make a change.