Case Synopsis

Treesus, an environmental advocacy group in Accra, Ghana, recently hired Luca Parente. Like many West African countries, Ghana has a linear economy, meaning that it dumps rather than recycles most of its municipal solid waste. Luca explores the Abokobi open dump site, a large open dump in the middle of the Abokobi community. Luca recognizes the hazards of living beside an open dump and learns that it may increase the rate of communicable diseases and the exposure to toxic heavy metals. The Abokobi community is divided on their perceptions of the dump. Some see scavenging at the dump as an opportunity to provide income for their families while others view the dump as a significant health hazard. Scavenging is one of the only forms of recycling present in Accra. Luca is expected to present on what he believes to be the best direction for waste management in Accra. Will Luca conclude that Accra should follow the footsteps of countries with more developed waste management systems? Or will Luca find a way to augment existing structures?

Case Objectives

  1. Understand the magnitude of waste and the challenges that arise when societies transition from low income to middle income countries.
  2. Identify the similarities and differences in waste management systems between Canada and a developing country such as Ghana.
  3. Apply the HDI and I = PAT to municipal solid waste management and determine how they impact decision making.
  4. Perform a SWOT analysis of the waste management system in Accra to guide the decisionmaking process outlined in the case.
  5. Analyze the consequences to the environment, economy, and human health that result from inadequate waste management.
  6. Evaluate the evidence surrounding the health effects of living beside an open dump to determine whether or not the evidence is conclusive.

Case Study Questions

  1. What are some innovative ways countries are managing their waste?
  2. What steps can Accra take on a household level to promote recycling? What about at a government level?
  3. Is scavenging at the Abokobi open dump a practice that should be prohibited because of the health effects to workers or promoted because of the economic and environmental benefits?
  4. What are the challenges to implementing a strengths-based approach at a community level? How about at an international level?
  5. What consequences could have been avoided had the Abokobi dump been engineered to protect the surrounding environment?
  6. What evidence does Luca need to reach a conclusion regarding the health effects of the Abokobi dump?
  7. How will the ‘Next 3 Billion’ effect the global production of waste?


waste management, municipal solid waste, stakeholder engagement, recycle

Additional Author Information

Matthew Tersigni, HBSc, MPH

Reginald Quansah, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health

Amardeep Thind, MD, PhD, Professor



Recommended Citation

Tersigni, M., Quansah, R., Thind, A. (2018). The Abokobi Open Dump. in: McKinley, G. & Sibbald, S.L. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2018. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.