Global North’s ‘donations’ prove to be harmful, careless


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Burrows

The Global North is “donating” old computer hardware and other miscellaneous used “goods” to the Global South, and the effect for those receiving the donations is deadly.

The Global North is generally includes North America, the developed parts of Asia and Western Europe, while the Global South consists of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, among other non-developed areas of the world.

Ghana and Nigeria are two of the countries affected by the trend of “Global South dumping ground,” according to Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization.

Greenpeace revealed that much of our electronic waste is being sent to undeveloped countries in Africa and Asia, often illegally.

European consumers create more than 8.7 million tons of E-waste every year and only a small amount of that is recycled, according to Consumers International, the world federation for consumer groups.

Once E-waste is sent overseas to the Global South, it most often can not be recycled because of the lack of resources and technology to do so. The  majority of these countries are not equipped with the systems that we have to recycle our waste.

The United States and Europe try to say that they are “donating” electronics such as old computers and monitors to these third-world countries, when in reality, only 25 percent of these “second-hand donations” work.

There are not only dangerous effects on the land and the environment, there are also gross repercussions for people’s overall life expectancy.

People are suffering major health issues from these electronic leftovers. Donations are not feeding hungry children – they are killing them. We are poisoning those already poor.

The computers’ cables are burnt to extract precious metals such as copper, but in the process, the fumes are proving to be fatal over time.

The fumes cause headaches and respiratory problems for workers who burn the trash, and not only the air is tainted but also the soils hold high levels of heavy metals. Lead and mercury have increasingly dangerous effects on developing nervous systems, specifically of children.

European regulations based on the Basel Convention explicitly forbid the export of hazardous waste from wealthy nations to developing countries, but the European Union has found a loophole in this.

The EU claims that what they send over is “secondhand goods” instead of hazardous waste, when in reality, only a small percentage of these “goods” are usable.

The Global North should be ashamed that it is hindering development in the Global South with its own selfishness and inconsiderate behavior.

We need to find some other way to get rid of our used computer hardware.

Burrows, a freshman journalism major from Mint Hill, is an opinion writer.

STORY: Lauren Burrows, Opinion Writer