The Hell of Copper: Where Devices go to Die

The Hell of Copper: Where Devices go to Die

Photo Essay by Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo


Over the past few years Ghana has become one of the principal countries to receive electrical waste materials coming from Europe and the United States. In The Hell of Copper I wanted to be as precise as possible; not showing my images for what they depict, but for what they transmit. These thousands of used computers have dramatic consequences for the environment and the health of the workers.

Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo's best photograph

The dump at the Aglobloshie Market spreads over 10 kilometres. From dawn to dusk, dozens of young Ghanaians, from 10 to 25 years of age, exhaust themselves doing this, seven days a week. Their mission is to disassemble the old computers and burn certain plastic or rubber components to cull the precious copper, which will then be resold. Everything is done by hand or with iron bars, makeshift tools found among the refuse. They have neither masks nor gloves. There are not even any functioning toilets.



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