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Kai Löffelbein May 3, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ghana.
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E-Waste Dump, Accra, Ghana 2011

Kai Löffelbein (b. 1981, Germany) majored in political science and in 2008 began his studies in photojournalism and documentary photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. Since 2007, he has been working as a freelance photographer for different NGOs and several newspapers. Kai traveled through various countries in South America, Asia and Eastern Europe. Meeting people who have to fight for survival on a daily basis raised his desire to grab his viewers attention and make them take action. Kai has received several prizes including the First Prize, Unicef photo of the year award (2011), Eight Days Japan International Award (2012), First Prize, Canon Pro Photo Award (2012). He was also nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass (2012).

About The Photograph:

“This photo is part of my reportage about e-waste in Ghana. According to a United Nations evaluation, up to 50 million tons of toxic electronic waste accumulate annually in the whole world. With the voluntary ratification of the Basel Convention in 1989, the countries are forbidden by law to further export toxic electronic waste to countries that are not members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Ghana is, apart from China and India, one of the countries to which most of the electronic waste is being shipped. This dump is situated in the midst of Accra, in Agbogbloshie. Here, electronic appliances that are no longer functioning are being recycled by hand in the most primitive of conditions. Small boys dismantle electronic items day by day.”

“On the dump, a clear hierarchy has developed. At the lower end of this hierarchy are children like the little boy in my picture. The boy is lucky. He has found a monitor from which the parts had not been completely extracted by the other workers at the dump. During the moment I took the photo he is lifting the heavy device to smash it to the ground in order to get hold of the aluminum frame. Others burn the electronics for any valuable metals. Noxious fumes fill the air; lead, cadmium, zinc, chrome, nickel and other chemical substances are emitted and damage the health of all who inhale them: headaches, dizziness, skin rashes and damage to the nervous system are the result, not to mention the highly toxic residue that contaminates the soil.”

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