Search YouTube for content on Agbogbloshie—a 20-acre scrapyard in the city of Accra, Ghana—and you’ll find documentaries with titles like “The Most Toxic Place on Earth,” “ToxiCity,” and “Welcome to Sodom.”
“These are the images the media love to show around Agbogbloshie,” says DK Osseo-Asare, assistant professor of architecture and engineering design at Penn State. “Young African men and boys burning wires and cables to recover copper and aluminum, using Styrofoam and old tires as fuel, creating clouds of toxic smoke, harming themselves and the environment, all to make a little money.”
But those media tell a story that’s incomplete, says Osseo-Asare, who is a Fulbright Scholar and TED Global Fellow.
In Agbogbloshie, more than 7,000 people retrieve scrap materials that have come from Accra, elsewhere in Ghana, and neighboring West African countries….