The Old Fadama Scrap Yard in Accra, commonly known as Agbogbloshie, has begun to receive a face-lift with the completion and commissioning of a health centre, football pitch and training facility for the community on Wednesday.
The facilities were as a result of the Technical and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the governments of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Germany, which gave rise to the “Environmentally Sound Disposal and Recycling of Electronic Waste (E-Waste Programme).”
The E-Waste Programme, being implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, seeks to improve the conditions for sustainable management and disposal of electronic waste in the country.
The training concept, in particular, would focus on economic efficiency, improved access to services, reduced exposure to health risks, and environmental protection.
Mr Christoph Retzlaff, the German Ambassador to Ghana, at the commissioning on Wednesday, said the initiative would help reduce risks to human health and environment by schooling scavengers to apply best practices for collection and dismantling of e-waste.
The 25-million Euro programme, he explained, would strengthen small-scale recyclers through capacity building on an individual and institutional level to work in a safer environment.
Mr Retzlaff said the combined effort between the two countries had begun to change the narrative of the scrap yard and was unfolding its full potential of becoming a place of environmentally friendly resource recovery.
“This will be a model for e-waste recycling in Ghana,” he added.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, said the process of resource recovery from e-waste had been a major problem for the country over the years, adding: “The way things are done here is not right”.
The facility, he said, was an excellent example that would be replicate in other countries as well as support the livelihood of people trying to earn a living.
He said despite the severe consequences of the trade in e-waste, many were involved because that had been their livelihood over the years.
Recycling e-waste under a sound condition, the Minister stated, would help the local economy, reduce air pollution and ensure a clean environment.
Subsequent to the three projects commissioned, the Minister said a big plant would be established where occupational health and safety standards as well as proper treatment and elimination of hazardous substances would be practiced.
Dr Stefan Oswald, the Director-General of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, said: “Being here at Agbogbloshie I can see that the scrap yard is a very challenging place to work with a lot of environmental and occupational health problems”.
“It is not the ‘hell on earth’ like it is often reported in the international media, however, we need to work hard to make it a place where about 10,000 scrap workers can earn a living under improved health and environmental conditions.”
The core problem is that conditions for sustainable management of e-waste in Ghana are not adequately developed, however, the current system has great potential.
It achieves high collection rates of about 95 per cent e-waste and generates income and employment for unskilled youth, particularly from the northern part of the country.