One of the first things to notice in the new “Children and Digital Dumpsites” report from the World Health Organization is how little e-waste – castoff phones, computers and other electronics – originates in African nations.
It may be the most important thing to notice, though, because the enormous amounts of e-waste generated by China, the United States, India and other countries is landing far too often in hazardous dumpsites that impact the health and environment of African children.
The Central African Republic generated just 2.5 kilotons of e-waste in 2019, while China was responsible for 10,129. People in Malawi created 10 kilotons in 2019, while Japan created 2,569. Egypt, among the African nations with the highest e-waste impact, generated 586 kilotons, while the U.S. created nearly 12 times that much.
Meanwhile, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon are top destinations for e-waste shipped to dumps that attract thousands of informal workers, including many children who scavenge for valuable materials.
Ghana’s well-known Agbogbloshie site accepts some 215,000 tons of secondhand electronics each year, primarily from Europe, with some 40,000 people living nearby. While Agbogbloshie has launched projects to limit exposure to heavy metals and other toxins, and create businesses for informal workers, there’s much more work to be done.
“WHO is working with other UN agencies, governments and communities across the world to spread awareness of the dangers of e-waste and to support the development of targeted policies, research and interventions,” the report said.
That’s especially true because of the potentially positive impacts of recycling e-waste, which can reduce carbon impacts when done safely. To learn more from the report, check this link.