The 13th edition of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award (Prix Carmignac du photojournalisme) will focus on Ghana and the ecological and social challenges the country faces.
Selected by an international jury, the laureate will receive a €50,000 grant to carry out a 6-month field report with the support of the Fondation Carmignac, which produces, upon their return, a traveling exhibition and the publication of a monograph.
Although a benchmark in West Africa for its political stability and multiple political parties, the cradle of pan-Africanism must confront its proliferating open dumps —such as Agbogbloshie, where nearly 80,000 people reside. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has identified Ghana as one of the world’s top sites of electronic waste.
International law mobilized to limit the transport of hazardous waste with the Basel Convention in 1992, followed by the Bamako Convention in 1998. Yet no change has been implemented. Swayed by lower costs, Western Europe is one of the regions that exports the most illegal waste today—nearly 600,000 tonnes per year—despite having its own efficient recycling centres.
About 95% of electronic waste in Ghana is collected and recycled through the informal economy. Without any health regulations, this work is often carried out by untrained minors seeking to recover valuable materials, such as copper and gold. These individuals are exposed to hundreds and hundreds of harmful substances, including lead and mercury. These are not biodegradable and accumulate in the ecosystem and living beings. According to WHO (World Health Organization): “A child who consumes even a single chicken egg from Agbogbloshie will absorb 220 times the daily limit of chlorinated dioxins (environmental pollutants).”
Photography has played an important role in the life of this post-colonial society, bearing witness to daily and family life as well as revealing a political and cultural golden age in the 1960s and 1970s. It is important today that this medium confronts realities that challenge the utopia of a common world championed since independence.
The Carmignac Photojournalism Award will provide support for a photojournalistic project that documents this volatile social crisis.
Further information: www.fondationcarmignac.com
Copertina: Sunday church service in the town of Drodro in eastern Congo’s Ituri province. May 2021 © Finbarr O’Reilly for Fondation Carmignac