Agbogbloshie e-waste landfill, Ghana

A slum in the heart of Accra has achieved notoriety as one of the most polluted slums in the world by hosting one of the largest electronic waste dump in the continent. Pollution in land, waters and bodies has reached dramatic levels


Agbogbloshie is a slum in the heart of Accra, Ghana, that has achieved notoriety as one of the most polluted slums in the world by hosting one of the largest electronic waste dump in Africa. In this area the poorest classes of Accra have been spending years dismantling, recovering, weighing and reselling parts and metals extracted from the scrapped devices and from the heaps of electronic waste. [1] [3] [4]. The majority of the e-waste that ends up in Agbogbloshie first enters the African continent through South Africa via Durban, Tunisia via Bizerte, and Nigeria via Lagos, so shipments containing hazardous materials circumvent the Basel and Bamako Conventions due to wording and labelling tactics. Once in Ghana, a shipment will more likely reach an informal facility in Accra where end-of-life electronic goods, including high scrap-value goods like automobiles, will pile up in one of several locations in the city, like Agbogbloshie. Every day informal workers transform used electronic products into working units and extract heavy and precious metals (often by burning electric cables) for reuse in secondhand formal and informal markets. The e-waste that has been either refurbished/repaired or recycled will later arrive in the hands of a middleman. These e-waste intermediaries may be scrap collectors who have ascended within the industry due to their connections in Accra and with international players and/or their monetary power. Many scrap dealers are connected to international scrap firms that are located in the Tema Export Processing Zone. These entities send Ghanaian recovered copper, mixed scraps and other metals to international recycling firms in Europe, China, India, and the Middle East. These international players have greater technical capabilities and accumulate scraps from numerous e-waste hubs, thereby achieving economies of scale in recycling. At the same time, some streams of refurbished and repaired consumer goods, as well as extracted metals, re-enter the Ghanaian domestic market, where firms in Ghana secure locally processed copper and aluminum fractions from scrap dealers. The non-valuable fractions and the unusable/irreparable e-waste components either end up in a formal landfill or in an informal dumping ground to be burned [3] [7] [6] [2].

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Basic Data
NameAgbogbloshie e-waste landfill, Ghana
ProvinceGreater Accra Region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesE-waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAgbogbloshie is an old neighborhood in Central Accra that has become an internationally known hotspot of e-waste recycling. A large informal settlement called Old Fadama, lies adjacent to Agbogbloshie, just a few hundred meters southeast of the central waste dump where a considerable portion of recycling practices occur. While Agbogbloshie and Old Fadama are technically separated by Abose-Okai Road, they function as an extended community (the names are often used imprecisely and interchangeably) and together comprise one of Ghana’s largest urban slums. Early settlers arrived to this area in 1981; it has since attracted economic migrants from various parts of the country (typically northern Ghana) who seek employment thanks its low cost of living, including the cheapest rents in the city and, later, the presence of the e-waste landfill. Based on a research conducted in 2009, the roughly 0.4 km2 area of Agbogbloshie was home to 79,684 individuals, of which approximately 4500–6000 and perhaps another 1500 indirectly founded livelihood opportunities. More generally, Ghana’s e-waste activities sustain the livelihoods of at least 200,000 people nationwide and generate US$105–268 million annually. This amount, in 2009, represented 280,000 metric tons of e-waste that entered Ghana, of which only 1% were processed through a formal facility. The share of working electronic goods found inside a typical e-waste shipment generally is about between 25% and 60%, depending by the formal or informal status of the importers that negotiate deals with manufacturers and distributers [3] [5].
Level of Investment (in USD)US$105–268 million
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population200,000 individuals
Start Date01/01/2005
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInternational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are beginning to fund and implement new pilot projects aiming to increase formal e-waste recycling. Pure Earth [] (with funding from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution [] opened an e-waste recycling center in 2015 with automated wire stripping units [9]
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingInformal workers
International ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Noise pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
Do you consider this as a success?No
Sources and Materials

[2] Kevin McElvaney, Agbogbloshie: the world's largest e-waste dump – in pictures, The Guardian, 27 february 2014
[click to view]

[1] Jacopo Ottaviani, E-waste Republic, Spiegel Online, 2015
[click to view]

[3] Kurt Daum, Justin Stoler, Richard J. Grant, Toward a More Sustainable Trajectory for E-Waste Policy: A Review of a Decade of E-Waste Research in Accra, Ghana, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017, 14, 135
[click to view]

[6] Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Huisman, J. (2015), The global e-waste monitor – 2014, United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, Bonn, Germany.
[click to view]

[7] Srigboh, R. K., Basu, N., Stephens, J., Asampong, E., Perkins, M., Neitzel, R. L., & Fobil, J. (2016). Multiple elemental exposures amongst workers at the Agbogbloshie electronic waste (e-waste) site in Ghana. Chemosphere, 164, 68-74
[click to view]


[9] Pure Earth, E-Waste Recycling – Agbogbloshie, Ghana
[click to view]

[5] MARI SHIBATA, Inside the World's Biggest E-Waste Dump, Jun 11 2015, Motherboard
[click to view]

[4] Isaac Kaledzi, Ghana: Germany Supports E-Waste Disposal in Ghana, 19 MARCH 2017, Deutsche Welle
[click to view]

[8] Nele Goutier, E-waste in Ghana: where death is the price of living another day, 7th August 2014, Ecologist
[click to view]

Other Documents

Kwabena Labobe, 10, plays on the site. His parents are not able to send him to school and forbid him to burn e-waste (2)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorCarla Petricca
Last update09/06/2017