Early morning at the "Bwala Five Five" landfill, in the town of Koforidua, Eastern Ghana. Fires burn all day and night around the site.

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Ghana: the wastepickers of Bwala Five Five

Olivier ERVYN | Ghana

Bwala five five” is the name given by wastepickers to the dumpsite of Koforidua, a town of 130,000 inhabitants in eastern Ghana. Every day, about 20 women and children work on the site, picking whatever may have some value from the rubbish deposited by municipal garbage trucks. Equipped with a piece of bent steel, used as a hook, wearing gloves made out of old socks,  they collect hard plastic and cans. Plastic is worth 0,20 USD a kilo, metal only 0,08 USD.

The work is dangerous, as only those who get very close to the trucks can grab the best and larger pieces of plastic. Trucks come in at all times, zigzagging between people, sheep, cows and vultures. The area is heavily polluted, covered in the toxic smoke of slow fires that burn night and day, provoke breathing problems and force workers to spend most of the little profit they make on medicines.

None of the adult waste pickers of Koforidua believe they will ever find a “real” job, away from the dumpsite. None of the children who work there go to school.

Olivier ERVYN


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