Mali has experienced a progressive deterioration of the living environment of its populations, due in particular to numerous pollutions of domestic, industrial and artisanal origins. These sources of pollution (air, water and soil) are particularly prevalent in areas of high human concentration. In rural areas the risks appears to be lower, except in the more intensive production areas. These pollutions are exacerbated by insufficient sanitation, poor management of liquid and solid wastes in urban centers [1]. In accordance with available data, the air quality in Mali is considered unsafe - the most recent data indicates the country's annual mean concentration of PM2.5 is 39 µg/m3, which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3 given by the World Health Organization's guidelines [2]. Moreover, between 1995 and 2015, mortality from exposure to outdoor PM2.5 of Mali was declining at a moderating rate to shrink from 617.23 per 1000000 inhabitants in 1995 to 289.27 per 1000000 inhabitants in 2015 [3].

Biomass fuel such as wood, charcoal, dung and crop residues remain the principal energy source of the country. Rural poor households often use open fires for cooking, causing indoor air pollution resulting in respiratory diseases. Over 15,000 people die every year due to indoor air pollution. Women, children and elderly people are the most vulnerable to indoor air pollution [4].

An estimated 77% of the population now has access to clean drinking water, but less than a quarter of the population are able to properly dispose of waste. The poor water quality in Mali results in a high risk of waterborne infectious diseases [5].

Waste pollution is another major problem in the country, where there are at least 40 un-authorised dumps where rubbish is piling up and polluting the air, water and soil [6].


Contributors to poor air quality in Mali include dust storms and vehicle emissions. Seasonal variations in pollution exist, with highest levels during Harmattan which runs from November to March [2].

Air is polluted by gases emitted by transport, industry, livestock, energy, bush fires among others . Air pollution impacts the climate and affects the health of populations. In addition, air is often contaminated by a haze, consisting of suspended dusts, particles of terrigenous origin of diameter varies between 10-1 to 100, particularly during the period of December to March. [1]

Agriculture, industries, mining and crafts activities generate pollutants that contaminate the environment (water, land and air). At the household level several elements contribute to pollution, including garbage, sewage, excreta, charcoal, and firewood  [1].

Artisanal gold mining is the cause of the greatest environmental and social damage in Mali, not only through the degradation of forest, agricultural and pastoral resources, but also through water pollution and the poor living conditions that characterize the sites [1].


Key policies and governance approach

Facing pollution challenges in various forms, Mali signed and ratified most convention agreements and international treaties governing the link between health and environment. The country also has strong legislation in this domain [1].

Respecting its international commitment to sustainable development, Mali signed the “Libreville's declaration on health and environment in Africa” in 2009. Following this declaration, Mali elaborated and adopted a document on the situation analysis and needs assessment (ASEB) in health and environment (PANC) [7].

The environmental sector in Mali has several policies and strategies that support environmental protection. The National Environmental Protection Policy (1998), the National Sanitation Policy, the National Forestry Policy, the National Climate Change Policy, the National Wetlands Policy, are all flagship policies, objectives of which take into account all the different environmental domains in the country (natural resources, climate change, land and air pollution, and living environment among others) [1].

Other relevant initiatives in this domain include: i) Strategic Sanitation Plan (PSA, 2009) and the following communal plans, ii) Liquid Waste Management Strategy (LWMS) (2009), iii) Ten-year Health and Social Development Plan (PDDSS) (2014-2023), and iv) the Strategic Plan for the Promotion of Hygiene Education in Schools (PS/PEHMS) (2011-2015) [8].

In Mali, the main institution in charge of pollution problems is the Ministry of the Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development (MEADD), within which several agencies and directorates have been created, including the Environment and Sustainable Development Agency (AEDD), the National Agency for the Management of Wastewater Treatment Plants in Mali (ANGESEM), the Niger River Basin Agency (ABFN), and the National Directorate for Sanitation and Standards / Pollution and Nuisance Control (DNACPN) [1] [9].


SUccesses and remaining challenges

To fight against the various forms of pollution Mali undertook a number of actions to implement its environmental policy including the elaboration and validation of several environmental state reports, updating national policies on environment, promotion and concretization of various partnerships, including among research structures; the country also worked with technical and financial partners to develop new projects and programs [10].

As part of its strategies for growth and poverty reduction (CSCRP) Mali made a number of efforts for offering Malian population best living conditions and pleasant. So, a company well-equipped is engaged to evacuate a large part of wastes in Bamako City. Awareness actions are made for strengthening the outcome of solid wastes at household level [11].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Mali joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in 2014 to contribute to efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants that would improve air quality and address near-term climate change. Of particular interest are the Coalition’s activities in the transport, agriculture, waste and heath sector, as well as the institutional strengthening support provided by the Supporting National Action and Planning (SNAP) initiative [12]. The National Meteorology Agency of Mali has worked extensively with the SNAP Initiative to build integrated emission inventories and increase capacity within the government to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon and methane. This work is paving the way for informed policy making and emission reduction strategies that will deliver direct in-country benefits for health and economic growth [13]



  • Mali has put in place several initiatives that contribute to the preservation and improvement of natural resources and the living environment of the population. Many of these initiatives are aimed at significantly reducing risks and nuisances, including the insalubrity of the environments where the populations live, through the realization of infrastructures and equipment, underpinned by actions such as information, sensitization and behavioral change.
  • In urban areas, Mali’s initiative to face pollution issues has the objective to: i)  reinforce the fight against all forms of nuisance and pollution, through the creation of purification stations or depollution of liquid, solid and gaseous discharges from industrial and artisanal units and the main cities; ii) encourage local initiatives (MSEs, NGOs and other members of civil society) in the collection and treatment of domestic waste and sanitation: iii) develop and/or strengthen the implementation of a sanitation policy, through the planning and implementation of sanitation infrastructures; and iv) control the interactions between rural and urban areas.