Frontline PBS Special: Digital Dumping Ground – eWaste Documented

PBS has a special that just aired on June 23, 2009 on Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground.

The video is here.


On the outskirts of Ghana's biggest city sits a smoldering wasteland, a slum carved into the banks of the Korle Lagoon, one of the most polluted bodies of water on earth. The locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah.

Correspondent Peter Klein and a group of graduate journalism students from the University of British Columbia have come here as part of a global investigation -- to track a shadowy industry that's causing big problems here and around the world.

Their guide is a 13-year-old boy named Alex. He shows them his home, a small room in a mass of shanty dwellings, and offers to take them across a dead river to a notorious area called Agbogbloshie.

Agbogbloshie has become one of the world's digital dumping grounds, where the West's electronic waste, or e-waste, piles up -- hundreds of millions of tons of it each year.

The team meets with Mike Anane, a local journalist who has been writing about the boys at this e-waste dump.

“Life is really difficult; they eat here, surrounded by e-waste,” Anane tells them. “They basically are here to earn a living. But you can imagine the health implications.”

Some of the boys burn old foam on top of computers to melt away the plastic, leaving behind scraps of copper and iron they can collect to sell. The younger boys use magnets from old speakers to gather up the smaller pieces left behind at the burn site.

There is an interactive map.


A slide show.