Voice Of Quaid

Turning e-waste into art at Ghana’s toxic dump

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ACCRA: Joseph Awuah-Darko sits on a stool at one of the world’s largest electronic waste dumps, watching polystyrene and insulation cables burn on the blackened ground.

“It´s survival and dystopia,” says the 21-year-old British-born Ghanaian, surveying the stretch of wasteland around him as dense plumes of acrid smoke rise into the air.

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Awuah-Darko and his university friends have ambitious plans for the sprawling Agbogbloshie dumping ground in Ghana´s capital, Accra.

In January this year, he co-founded the non-profit Agbogblo.Shine Initiative, which encourages people working at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture.

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The dump workers typically risk exposure to harmful fumes by burning obsolete and unwanted appliances such as mobile phones, computers, televisions and plastics that are brought to Ghana from around the world.

After burning, they salvage and resell copper and other metals from these leftovers of modern consumer culture.

The dump and scrapyard sit next to the heavily polluted Odaw River in the slum-like area, home to an estimated 40,000 people.

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