17.01.2014  •  Events NEWS

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reportage •  Agbogbloshie - still not sponsored von Kevin McElvaney. Sein persönlicher Erfahrungsbericht in Foto, Film und Text auf GoSee

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KEVIN MCELVANEY : Agbogbloshie

Director: Kevin McElvaney
Location: Agbogbloshie, Ghana

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Hier zeigen wir Euch eine freie und auf schreckliche Weise spannende Strecke samt Text von Fotograf Kevin McElvaney. Seine letzte Reise führte ihn nach Agbogbloshie, der größten Elektroschrott-Mülldeponie Ghanas. Die hier gezeigte Giftmüllhalde gehört zu den am stärksten verseuchten Orten der Welt. Durch die Zusammenarbeit mit lokalen Umweltaktivisten und Hilfsorganisationen hatte Kevin die Möglichkeit das Leben der Jugendlichen vor Ort für vier Tage kennenzulernen und dieses zu portraitieren. Sein Erfahrungsbericht, sein Film und nicht zuletzt die traurig-schönen Motive findet Ihr auf GoSee. GoSee.us/derkevin


Hier sein Text auf GoSee :
"Ghana is a favourite destination for illegal exportation and dumping of electronic-waste worldwide. It started about 10 years ago. Almost every electronic devise (and especially older ones) contains toxic chemicals, which makes it expensive to recycle them or they are even not-recylable. By law it is not allowed to dump this electronic-waste in Europe and America (≈1st world countries), so they end up in (for example) Ghana as second-hand and fake-labeled donations. So sometimes even a fully loaded container of TVs, Hifi-Systems, Refrigerators and so on is disguised as development aid, even if the content is obviously not working anymore.

In the end 500 shipping-container loads end up in Tema (= Harbour in Ghana) every month! And +/- 2 month around christmas it even rises up to 800/ month. Besides the waste from Individuals, you will also find devices from ministries, high profile government institutions, universities and banks - again, most times from Europe & the US. Its quite easy to identify it, because institutions like that have stickers and labels on their devices.
For sure they don´t expect it to end up in a place like Agbogbloshie. In th first place they paid (a lot) for a proper disposal, but do not control what really happens… A friend of mine is collecting devices like this to have a proof and is e-mailing the institutions to let them know and many of them are really surprised.

On top the Basel Convention makes it illegal to export stuff like that (The Basel Convention, a treaty meant to control the movement of hazardous waste between nations, particularly the transfer from developed to less-developed countries. The treaty was opened for signatures in 1989 and put into force in 1992. As of 2013, 179 countries and the European Union are parties to the convention.).

Approximately 80% of the containers from Tema end up in Agbogbloshie and some smaller dumpsites (= Tema itself, Kumasi, Takoradi, Koforidua - but these are really small ones). So the importeurs just check the containers quickly and buy the stuff that looks good and some devices without testing them, but again, 80% goes to the dumpsites.

On the dumpsites they do everything to get the metals: small boys smash the TVs with stones or simple tools and without gloves. Copper has a great value and can be found in wires, small electro engines and capacitors.
The fastes way to get this copper is to burn these materials. So the boys touch and inhale high toxics every-day (cadmium for example) and get seriously ill because of that. With the money they earn they have to buy food, medicines and if possible they send some money to their parents. Many boys and Girls come from the northern parts and upper west regions of Ghana and because people are very poor there, they try to find jobs in cities like Accra, but actually these jobs don´t exist. Many of them have been farmers, but the climate change makes it almost impossible to grow plants there and many import-vegetables like tomatoes are cheaper, than the local ones.

Working in a place like Agbogbloshie means, that most of them won´t reach the age of 30years. Injuries like sears, untreated wounds, lung problems, eye and back damages go side by side with chronic nausea, anorexia, heavy headaches, respiratory problems and almost everyone is suffering from insomnia. Its a place of no-man, because everyone can just come there and start to burn. I also met boys from close by countries, who flew because of civil-war struggles, so many desperate souls can be found here. Many boys work communally but they never work for someone else, than themselves, everyone is a brother/ boss. The ≈ 40.00 settlers themselves call this place “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

So there are a few middle-man in this system, after the copper and metals are separated, but beforehand the kids just follow the trucks which come to Agbogbloshie and pick up as much as they can and burn it. The bared metals will find their way back to any country, which needs them.

Who makes the money: The boys in Agbogbloshie just live on a subsistence level (approx. 2,50$/ day and they work from sunrise to sunset), but investigations have shown, that the exporters really make the money by receiving money and proclaiming “we will recycle”.

Maybe there are some bribes in the exporting harbours (Europe, America, Nigeria, China, Holland), but its difficult to show that. Many checkers report, that they are just overwhelmed by the quantities, and because of that, its not possible “to check every container” - in doubt they let it go. The controls of the shifted containers are bad and maybe even impossible. Sometimes you will see a container, where the first few devices in front are ok, but behind there its just scrap. But the problem starts here: exporting countries should check the containers and prevent illegal exportations.

The solution: All countries should stop these e-waste shifting and respect the basel convention. Manufacturers and consumers have to play their role and should know the consequences. New design and way of recycling could change that. I met a few organisations who work from another way: They try to teach the boys how they can disassemble the scrap properly, “safe” and more efficient, but in the end they will still get infected. Agbgobloshie is a social-economic and environmental disaster. And we should´t except it as some kind of “income for an african country”/ way of life.

In my opinion there should´nt be some kind of economy based on this, especially not in this way. For example Agbogbloshie was a recreation area before and the odaw-river, which surrounds the burning fields once had many fish swimming around. Today it is black, slightly bubbling and TVs, PCs and Refrigerators swimming on top of it. The first day i was there, i wash´t even able to identify it as a river, because it was covered with all that, but the next day it was all flushed away and found its way into the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays the cows still walk around on their old grazing grounds and eat the waste and poisoned grass. I saw a cow with open wounds (cancer?) with a local activist for the first time there.

Before Agbogbloshie existed they sold oranges, water and other stuff at the close by market, called “Agbogbloshie Market” - so there are alternatives. Working in these fields keeps the kids away from school, because they play and work there instead of going to school and even can´t afford it as expected sometimes. In the long run its a vicious circle and they are not able to leave this place.





About - Agbogbloshie is a suburb of Accra, Ghana known as a destination for legal and illegal exportation and environmental dumping of electronic waste (e-waste) from industrialized nations. Often referred to as a "digital dumping ground", millions of tons of e-waste are processed each year in Agbogbloshie. The town covers approximately four acres and is situated on the banks of the Korle Lagoon, northwest of Accra's Central Business District. 40,000 Ghanaians inhabit the area, most of whom are migrants from rural areas. Due to its harsh living conditions and rampant crime, the area is nicknamed "Sodom and Gomorrah".