Pollution: Illegal Dumping in West Africa

Pollution means to make the land, air, or water dirty. As a result, they can become toxic or unable to use and in some cases can be dangerous to human health. Africa produces 1.9 million tonnes of waste each year, which is actually very little for the number of people that live there. Some countries (like the UK and Germany) have much smaller populations but make almost as much waste as the whole of Africa. These Western countries have an issue with where to put their waste. Unfortunately, many send their rubbish to other countries rather than deal with it themselves. This is a problem for areas such as West Africa.

Western countries produce too much waste because of the lifestyles of the populations. Although people are told by governments to reduce their use of materials and reuse them when possible, there is still too much waste produced. Instead of throwing it away in their countries, they actually send their waste to places like West Africa because it is cheaper for them to do this. Of course, this is very unfair for countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria to have to deal with this.

Often, electronic materials like computer screens and refrigerators are sent to West Africa illegally. These materials do have very useful parts to them which people could reuse for many different purposes. However, the waste that is illegally sent to places like Agbogbloshie, Ghana, are completely broken and useless. These pieces of rubbish contain toxic chemicals which then damage the land and water in Ghana, impacting on human health, animals, and crops.

One example of illegal dumping in West Africa that was particularly bad was in Ivory Coast. In 2006, a company called Trafigura sent a ship to the Abidjan port and left 500 tonnes of toxic waste there. Instead, the company should have dealt with it back in the Netherlands (the country where the company is from). The dumping of this waste in 2006 killed 17 people and injured over 30,000 people from the Ivory Coast. This is very unfair and Western countries should take responsibility for these unjust actions. As a result of the illegal dumping, African countries have to deal with problems that are not their fault.

It is important that West African nations are aware of the dangers of pollution so they can deal them. With landfills and heaps of rubbish, it is best for people to stay away from them and any water nearby to them as toxic chemicals can spread from them. If more people know about the dumping then the Western countries are less likely to continue to do it. In fact, in recent years, people are confronting Trafigura for the problems they caused in Ivory Coast in 2006. The company may now end up paying the Ivory Coast a lot of money for the damage caused. Whilst this is good, it still does not replace the lives lost from their actions. The best African nations can do is to be aware of these dangers and make sure they deal with their own waste in better ways too, for example, by leaving it far away from where people live.

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