In a resource efficient, low-carbon and inclusive Circular Economy the informal sector can play a key role. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore that current practice of recycling electric and electronic waste in the informal sector poses severe risks on the population and the environment. Fostering occupational health and protection in the informal sector together with the institutional capacities in environmental medicine are important prerequisites for an inclusive Green Economy.
The scrap yard Agbogbloshie in Accra is worldwide known as one of the most contaminated sites due to environmentally and socially unsustainable WEEE recycling practice of the informal e-waste workers. The contamination of the environment and the health risks for the people working there and the population living nearby were the starting point of cooperation for action-oriented research in occupational health and environmental medicine of PHD ans MsC students between the Technical University of Aachen in Germany and the University of Ghana.
The research paved the way for a new project engaging the two universities starting in 2016: It aims at fostering human capacities in the field of occupational health and environmental medicine in Ghana. It will also improve the local laboratory capacities at the University of Ghana for detecting heavy metals for example in blood and urine. As part of the project, a basic occupational health service will be provided at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard.
While the activities in 2015 were supported by the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia exclusively, the new project will have an additional share from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.