Africa: Tracking Toxic Pollution

MDG : Toxic Industries  : Lead-Acid Battery Recycling in KenyaThe damages produced by modern economies, termed “externalities” by economists, most often do not figure in the market signals shaping corporate profits and therefore corporate decision-making. The result, both in advanced economies or around the world, includes not only the massive threat to our common future through global warming, but also extraordinary levels of toxic pollution disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable
Of the top ten toxic threats around the world identified in a new report, three are in Africa: the Agbogbloshie Dumpsite for e-waste in Ghana, the entire Niger Delta region in Nigeria, and the now-closed but still deadly lead mining site in Kabwe, Zambia.

While governments have the primary responsibility to act, their failures are leaving much of the work in tracking this toxic pollution and campaigning for real solutions to non-governmental organizations and activists. The information they are uncovering, however incomplete, shows clearly that the issues are international and that the solutions must also be international.

Much of the e-waste being processed in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa is imported from Europe. The exploitation of the Niger Delta and the consistent failure to address massive toxic pollution is the responsibility both of foreign oil companies and of the Nigerian government. And the cleanup of the legacy of 90 years of lead mining in Zambia is being addressed both by the Zambian government and by international organizations.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from two recent reports on some of the worst cases of toxic pollution in Africa: (1) a report from Amnesty International on the flaws of oil spills investigations in the Niger Delta by oil companies and the Nigerian government, and (2) information on three African cases, including the Niger Delta, from a report on areas of “top ten toxic threats” in the world.

Continue reading this article at AfricaFocus.

Photography Credits: ony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

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