More than five million pieces of second-hand electronics arrive in the West African nation annually, mainly from Europe, the United States and China, according to a 2012 report by Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Those not in working condition – about three-quarters of the shipments docking at Accra’s main port – are dumped at Agbogbloshie, the EPA says.
Over the years, the landfill has morphed into a toxic graveyard containing tens of millions of discarded electronics, or e-waste.
It has also become a source of income for the poorest of the poor who search for recyclable metals, like aluminium, copper and iron, that they sell to scrap dealers for a few cents.
Environmental and health risks
More than a quarter of Ghana’s 25-million people live under the poverty line of 1.25 dollars a day, according to World Bank data.
About 40 000 of them, including young children, live in the slum next to the dump and eke out a living from toxic e-waste.
“I lost my job as a security guard five years ago. The only way I can feed my family is by sorting through scrap. My son stopped going to school to help me,” explains Amenume, who hails from the village of Alakple, in the country’s north-east.
“We know we can get sick from the smoke. But if we stop working here, we won’t have anything to eat,” he adds.