Pollution in Côte d'Ivoire has high costs [1]. Air pollution is a serious health concern in the country [2] and has been linked to lower respiratory tract diseases such as asthma and pneumonia [1]. Most of the population is exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines. According to the WHO, this exposure resulted in an estimated 34,000 premature deaths in Côte d'Ivoire in 2016, including 8,000 child deaths from respiratory infections [3].

Polluted water in Côte d'Ivoire is associated with the spread of highly communicable waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera, which account for more than 50% of adult deaths and about 80% of deaths among children under age 5. In addition, pollution also affects the country’s productivity and economic activities, with water pollution hurting property values and tourism, fishing, and other activities that require clean water [1]. For instance, the Ébrié Lagoon, the biggest lagoon system in West Africa and an important cultural and economic feature of Côte d'Ivoire, has been the recipient of solid, liquid, and industrial waste from Abidjan [4]. The resulting extreme pollution of the Ebrié lagoon with heavy metals and organic matter has led to the depletion of fishery resources [5]. In fact, fishing in the once pristine lagoon has reportedly been abandoned [6].

Insufficient waste management in Côte d’Ivoire is another serious health and sanitation concern [7]. According to the World Bank, in 2018, Côte d’Ivoire produced over 4 million tons of solid waste, with 2.5 million tons left uncollected. Access to waste collection and treatment is uneven across regions. Because of low formal collection rates, open dumping and burning in Côte d’Ivoire are commonly practised. Even formally collected waste is often disposed of at unsanitary dumpsites without processing [8]. Most existent dumping sites become the source of air, soil, and water pollution, release large amounts of GHG, and pose a serious threat to public health.

The pollution of water and beaches by plastic materials has also become an important environmental issue for Côte d'Ivoire. Plastic waste is encountered in marine and lagoon waters and represents around half of the marine debris that is found along the Ivorian coast, particularly between Abidjan and Grand-Bassam [5]. Additionally, Côte d'Ivoire is considered among Africa's top hotspots in terms of plastic leakage into the oceans, ranked second in West Africa only behind Nigeria, and fifth in Africa [9].


Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most urbanised countries in West Africa, with more than half of its population living in cities [10], mainly in Abidjan. By 2050, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of Côte d’Ivoire’s population will live in urban centres [11]. Pollution generally rises as urbanization intensifies and wealth grows. And the consumption and waste associated with each urban resident are likely to grow, straining solid waste services and raising pollution and health risks, unless managed properly. Unfortunately, Côte d'Ivoire faces shortcomings in infrastructure and land use coordination which have deepened the country’s urban pollution, as cities have shortages in basic sanitation, solid waste management, and stormwater infrastructure. Poor solid waste management has resulted in air, water, and soil pollution. Additionally, untreated water from industry and households is discharged into urban water bodies and the Atlantic Ocean, washing pollutants into lakes, lagoons, and the ocean [1].

Air pollution in Côte d’Ivoire is largely caused by the burning of wood and other biomass for cooking, as well as the open burning of waste and crop residues, and industry and vehicle emissions [12]. Air quality is being impacted by the use of poor quality fuels and the country’s very old vehicle fleet, averaging 20 years according to the Ministry of Transport (2017) [13].


Key policies and governance approach

Several regulatory texts in Côte d’Ivoire govern pollution [7], including Law No. 2016-886 of 8 November enacting the Constitution of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. Specifically, Article 27 recognises ‘that everyone throughout the national territory has the right to a healthy environment’ and states that ‘the transit, import or illegal storage and dumping of toxic waste on national territory constitute crimes that are not subject to any statute of limitations.’ Further, Article 40 indicates that ‘the protection of the environment and the promotion of the quality of life are a duty for the community and for each natural or legal person’ [5], [7].

In addition, the Environment Code, Law No. 96-766 of 3 October 1996, establishes the general framework for the protection of the environment, requiring the conduct of an environmental assessment for all major development projects (Art.39) [7]. Among other things, the Code aims to establish the fundamental principles of management and protection of the environment in order to increase the value of natural resources and fight against all kinds of pollution and nuisances [14]. It is also supplemented by relevant decrees, such as Decree No. 98-42 of 28 January 1998 organizing the emergency plan to combat accidental pollution at sea, in the lagoon and in coastal areas [15].

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MINEDD) is responsible for implementation of the Environment Code and the legislation for the protection of nature and the environment. The Ivorian Anti-pollution Centre (known by its French acronym, CIAPOL) under MINEDD, established by Decree No. 91-662 of 9 October 1991, is responsible for monitoring the levels of water (lagoons, sea, and fresh water), soil and air pollution in Côte d’Ivoire [14].

Concerning air pollution, as a member of the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC) since 2013, Côte d'Ivoire is committed to taking integrated measures that simultaneously improve air quality and mitigate climate change. In 2020, Côte d'Ivoire published its National Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Action Plan, which identified 16 specific measures targeting the main sources of air pollutants and SLCPs, which could significantly reduce emissions of black carbon, methane, fine particles, but also simultaneously reduce carbon dioxide. More recently, the country’s revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) also considers the reduction of SLCPs, which could make a significant contribution to GHG mitigation. Implementation of mitigation actions in the NDC is expected to avoid more than 7,000 premature deaths due to exposure to fine particles by 2030, thus contributing to the improvement of air quality, the health of populations and to sustainable development [16].

Regarding waste management, Côte d'Ivoire has developed a national strategy and a waste management plan that integrates recycling and recovery components [17], and has banned the production, import, marketing, possession and use of plastic bags through Decree No. 2013-327 of 22 May 2013 [5]. At the institutional level, solid waste management in Côte d'Ivoire is overseen by the National Waste Management Agency (ANAGED). ANAGED oversees the management of all types of solid waste, including disposal of hazardous waste and medical waste [8].

Successes and remaining challenges

Despite a favourable institutional framework, problems in the application of certain texts exist. For instance, if Decree No. 2013-327 of 22 May 2013 banning the production, import, marketing, possession and use of plastic bags was sufficiently applied, the pollution of beaches, marine and coastal waters by plastic bags in Côte d'Ivoire should be reduced. However, this is not the case, as plastic bag pollution persists in the country [5]. Further, there is low to no enforcement of the Environment Code, with companies continuing to dispose of their waste in open dumps or open incineration [18]. Better regulation will require targeted enforcement efforts to sustain gains in environmental protection [5].

In addition, Côte d'Ivoire still faces shortcomings related to infrastructure. For example, the country lacks the critical infrastructure to dispose of both industrial and medical waste. To overcome this, Côte d'Ivoire will require significant investments in infrastructure [18]. But the Government’s ambition for integrated and sustainable Solid Waste Management (SWM) for example, cannot be financed and supported by the public sector alone. Private sector participation in solid waste infrastructure and service provision is needed to leverage large investment and greatly improve service provision. Therefore, the government will need to unlock the potential of the private sector for further improvements in the SWM sector’s performance, sustainability, and geographical coverage [8].

Though much remains to be done in terms of mobilizing public and private finance, the country has asserted a real political will in the field of environmental protection [17]. In addition, it is one of the few countries to quantitatively state the health benefits of climate change actions. This has provided a strong case in the country for NDC implementation, which will in turn improve Côte d'Ivoire’s air quality, as well as the health of the population [12].

Initiatives and Development Plans

The World Bank’s US$ 315 million ‘Urban Resilience and Solid Waste Management (SWM) Project’ in Cote d’Ivoire aims to reduce the country’s vulnerability to flooding in selected urban areas and improve SWM in targeted municipalities. The project is comprised of 4 components: (1) Flood risk mitigation infrastructure and services; (2) Improvement of solid waste management infrastructure and services; (3) Project management support; and (4) Contingent Emergency Response.

The second component of the project (US$124 million) focuses on improving SWM infrastructure and services. It aims to further improve the SWM system in the Abidjan Autonomous district, expand the model to other secondary cities, and optimize the systems through better governance, reducing waste quantities buried, and use of digital technology. It consists of the following sub-components: (i) strengthening solid waste management capacities in the Abidjan autonomous district and two selected intercommunal groups of secondary cities; (ii) strengthening sector governance, institutional capacity, and citizen engagement; and (iii) improving solid waste management through citizen engagement, recycling, reuse, composting, and digital technology [8], [19].

  • Undertake legal, policy, and institutional reforms to strengthen pollution-related regulations, including better monitoring of the application of texts and compliance [9], [20].
  • Develop, strengthen, and adopt environmental standards specific to the oil and gas sector, for the use of hazardous substances and the management of wastewater, with reference to the Malabo Protocol [5].
  • Strengthen enforcement of existing regulations to tackle pollution [5] and build the capacity of the different actors involved in the enforcement of the relevant regulatory instruments concerning pollution [9].
  • Policy makers and consumers require better information on the environmental costs of their decisions. The government can lead in collecting and disseminating such information. For example, it can establish reporting standards for firms, monitoring national data on water and air quality. It can also educate through schools and use incentives, regulations, and price instruments to change behaviour among firms and households [1].
  • The country will need large investments in infrastructure and services, especially as cities grow [1]. Public-Private Partnerships should unlock the potential of private sector financing [8].
  • Planning can also greatly reduce the long-term costs of urban development by preparing for basic service infrastructure such as sewage systems and roads. This can insulate small cities from future costs like those now facing larger cities such as Abidjan, where, for example, due to the city’s layout, 40% of houses cannot be reached by solid-waste trucks [1].
  • Improve and promote scientific research and technological innovations and increase stakeholder awareness and commitment to address the challenge of pollution [9].
  • Strengthen collaboration with international organizations and institutions in the fight against pollution, including marine plastic waste [9].
  • Greening initiatives in the country offer potential solutions. Upgrading basic infrastructure in Abidjan’s precarious settlements could yield social, economic, and environmental benefits. Protecting green and open spaces along the waterfront, while making the city more attractive and liveable, can provide a vital buffer against climate change–related risks. And coordinated efforts to provide public transport, while providing a wide range of social and economic advantages, can stem rising congestion and air pollution [1].

[1] World Bank. 2021. République de Côte d’Ivoire 2021-2030 - Sustaining High, Inclusive, and Resilient Growth Post COVID-19 : A World Bank Group Input to the 2030 Development Strategy. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO. 

[2] UN Environment Programme (2022). Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC): Cote d'Ivoire. [Online]. Available: 

[3] UN Environment Programme (2020). Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC): Cote d’Ivoire endorses National Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Action Plan to improve air quality and mitigate climate change. [Online]. Available:

[4] United Nations Environment Programme (2015). Côte d’Ivoire Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment.

[5] MINEDD, 2021 : Résumé aux décideurs du 1er Rapport sur l’Etat de l’Environnement Marin et côtier de la Côte D’Ivoire (REEM-CI). Projet Gestion Intégrée de l’Aire Marine et côtière d’Abidjan à Assinie (GIAMAA / CIAPOL), 20p.

[6] africanews. (2022). Ivory Coast's 'Pearl of Lagoons' loses its lustre. [Online]. Available:

[7] African Development Bank (2019). Côte d'Ivoire - Project for the construction and operation of a technical landfill centre in Kossihouen for the disposal of household and similar solid waste in the Abidjan Autonomous District (DAA) - Esia Summary.

[8] The World Bank (2020). Project Information Document (PID): Urban Resilience and Solid Waste Management Project (P168308).


[10] Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (2023). SOCIAL SITUATION: Big differences between the North and the South. [Online]. Available:

[11] Que la Route Soit Bonne : Améliorer la Mobilité Urbaine à Abidjan (French). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.éliorer-la-Mobilité-Urbaine-à-Abidjan

[12] Stockholm Environment Institute (2022). Côte d’Ivoire enhances its climate plan by tackling air pollution – a lever to improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [Online]. Available:

[13] Gnamien, S., Yoboué, V., Liousse, C., Ossohou, M., Keita, S., Bahino, J., Siélé, S., Diaby, L. (2021). Particulate Pollution in Korhogo and Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) during the Dry Season. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200201.


[15] U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). ENVIRONMENTAL Resources MANAGEMENT - ESIS ERANOVE PHASE V. Chapter 2: LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK.

[16] DIRECTION DE LA LUTTE CONTRE LES CHANGEMENTS CLIMATIQUES, Ministère de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable (2022). Contributions Déterminées au niveau National (CDN) de la Côte d’Ivoire.


[18] JICA (2021). Market research of high priority investment sectors in Côte d'Ivoire: Waste management report.

[19] The World Bank Group (2022). Urban Resilience and Solid Waste Management Project. [Online]. Available:

[20] Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Salubrité Urbaine et du Développement Durable, République de Côte d’Ivoire (2016). STRATEGIE ET PLAN D’ACTION POUR LA DIVERSITE BIOLOGIQUE NATIONALE 2016-2020.