In accordance with WHO's guidelines, the air quality in Senegal is considered unsafe. In Dakar, PM10 can reach seven times the recommended level, and the number of hospital patients with respiratory diseases appears to be growing [1]. This is thought to be linked to worsening air quality in Senegal’s capital, however, in the absence of studies, it is difficult to determine to what part atmospheric pollution may be responsible [2].    

Senegal also suffers from a chronic deficit of access to solid waste management services. Senegal produces over 2.4 million tons of solid waste per year, out of which 1.08 million tons is uncollected. The collection rate in Senegal in average is 55%, below the average in sub-Saharan Africa (65%) [3], [4]. As the hub of economic and industrial activities, Dakar is the main “solid waste producer” in Senegal, but solid waste management practices are not yet aligned with the heavy amount of waste generated [5].

In Senegal, landfills are the main means of disposal of collected waste. Incineration, composting and other biological treatments are the exception [6]. Landfills are also used for biomedical and industrial waste, even though these are considered hazardous and pose a serious threat to the environment [4], [6]. Dakar’s solid waste is currently disposed into a large open dump, at Mbeubeuss, a densely populated suburban area of the capital. Mbeubeuss dumpsite was initially allocated a land parcel of about 5 hectares [5], but now covers an estimated area of 115 hectares [7]. The site is a significant source of water, air and land pollution, which continues to expand (Fig.1) [4].

In the rest of the country and in households without collection services, uncontrolled dumping and incineration are the norm [6]. Poor management of solid waste in Senegal has led to the degradation of cities and towns with decreasing economic opportunities and land value, and blocking of storm water drains causing flooding, degradation of surface and ground water quality, the spread of disease pathogens and greenhouse gas emissions [4].  

In addition, Senegal was the world’s 21st largest contributor to ocean waste in 2010, producing more than 250,000 tons of mismanaged plastic waste. This is expected to rise to 738,000 tons by 2025, according to a 2020 study [8].


Fig.1 The Mbeubeuss landfill. Source: [Online]. Available:

Fig.1 The Mbeubeuss landfill. Source: [Online]. Available:


Air pollution is due to particles in suspension (PM10 and PM2.5). The main source of pollution in Senegal is linked to sand winds, also connected to the problems of land degradation and climate change [2]. Seasonal variations in pollution exist, with the highest levels occurring during the dry season (November to March), when an unpleasant wind, known as the harmattan, blows in dust from the Sahara [1], [9]. Contributors to poor air quality in Senegal also include agricultural, mining and refining industries, vehicle emissions, and waste burning [9]. With a growing population, the number of cars and buses on the roads keep increasing in Dakar, many of which are old or second hand, meaning they pollute more. In addition, fuel imported to Africa contains much higher levels of sulphur than that used in Europe or the United States, as an investigation in 2016 by Swiss campaign group Public Eye revealed. This means cars using "dirty fuel" emit more toxic gas considered a major pollutant [1]

The key drivers of solid waste generation in Africa, are urbanization and sustained urban population growth [5]. Senegal has experienced rapid urbanization, with an urbanization rate ahead of the Sub-Saharan African average. Currently, almost half of the country’s population live in urban areas, this expected to reach 60% by 2030 [10]. In general, most cities in Senegal are only able to collect a fraction of the waste that they produce; and the collected waste is rarely processed to minimum acceptable standards [4].  

Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is spread over 550 square kilometres (0.3% of the national territory) and is home to nearly 25% of the Senegalese population. Like many rapidly growing cities in Africa, solid waste management in Dakar is inadequate and inefficient. Households are not equipped to properly store their waste leading to the proliferation of uncontrolled dumping in the streets, yards, abandoned houses or illegal dumpsites. In addition, ineffective planning and constrained financial resources affect the management of huge quantities of solid waste generated by households in the city [5].

Single-use plastics are a pervasive problem in Senegal [6]. Despite the existence of a law banning single-use plastic bags of less than 30 microns, the urban landscape continues to be polluted by this waste, which is mostly made up of disposable bags, packaging, and water bags. In addition, waste trafficking is making waves in Senegal [11]. In 2021, the German company Hapag-Lloyd attempted to smuggle 25 tonnes of plastic waste into Senegal [11], [12]


Key policies and governance approach

The Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development is responsible for implementing the government’s sectoral policy on pollution management. However, several other Ministries and/or Organizations intervene in its management [13].

The Sectoral Policy Letter for the Environment and Sustainable Development (LPSEDD) 2016-2020 includes an operational program dedicated to the fight against pollution and nuisances to improve the management of chemicals such as mercury and hazardous waste [13].

In Senegal, there are also a number of plans for the management of chemical, harmful and hazardous substances, including: The National Action Plan for the Management of Hazardous Waste (NWMP of 1999); The National Chemical Management Profile (2002, revised in 2011); The National Profile on the Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (2002); The National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2005); The national action plan for the management of biomedical waste (March 2014), among others [13].

Law N ̊2001-01 of January 15, 2001 concerns the principle of the right of everyone to breathe air that does not harm their health. This law incorporates for the first time a standard (Senegalese Standard NS 05-060) which sets the requirements on gas emissions and exhaust fumes from motor vehicles, applying to carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and smoke opacity. In November 2003, the government set the conditions for the application of the new standard NS 05-062 on atmospheric pollution and to regulate the terms for reject of atmospheric pollutants into the ambient air. It applies generally to existing and new stationary installations and to vehicles that generate gaseous effluents [14].

In addition, Senegal set up an air quality management centre (CGQA), with six measuring stations distributed throughout the city of Dakar. These stations make it possible to monitor on a daily basis, five pollutants which are very harmful to health: PM10 (dust), PM2.5 (automotive and industrial origin), surface ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. A mobile laboratory truck has also been part of the system since 2015. It allows air quality to be measured at any point, particularly at stations not covered by the fixed network [2], [13]. Daily Air Quality Index (AQI) is available to both the public and the government [15].

Most recently, Senegal adopted the Anti-plastic Law No. 2020-04 of January 8, 2020, which replaces Law No. 2015-09 of May 4, 2015, on the prohibition of the production, import, possession, distribution, and use of thin polyethylene plastic bags, and the rational management of plastic waste. The amendments to the law in 2020 include the following: Prohibition of certain single-use plastic products or disposable plastic products; Total ban on plastic bags at retail checkout; Deposit on plastic bottles to improve collection and recycling; Producers obligation (extended responsibility), to ensure management of waste from the products in marketplace; Obligation to incorporate recycled plastic in the manufacture of new plastic products; Imposition of a tax on non-recyclable plastics to encourage use of recyclable plastics; and a ban on importing plastic waste into Senegal [6].


Successes and Remaining Challenges

Before the plastic law, there were no clear and specific laws that governed solid waste management in Senegal. The Environmental and Public Hygiene Code (Code de l’Environnement et de l’Hygiène Publique) addressed the problem in a piecemeal manner but dated back to 1974. A study that took place in Dakar in 2016 [5], revealed challenges concerning solid waste management at the government and policy level. First, laws and regulations on solid waste management did not evolve in a manner that ensures a clear delineation of responsibilities between the national government and municipalities. Municipalities simply claim that they do not have sufficient funds to ensure a sustainable solid waste management system in their areas of jurisdiction and that the government should pay for solid waste management. Over time, responsibilities for solid waste management have shifted between public and private stakeholders without clear roles for each sector [5].

Second, laws and regulations have never been sufficiently enforced to reduce the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste by households. To improve solid waste management in the country, the two levels of government (municipalities and national government) should put in place incentives to promote sorting, recycling, and composting — these strategies have been proven to be effective in developed countries. In addition, the government should improve the working conditions of solid waste management personnel who are, in most cases, stigmatized due to the nature of their work. Members of the public should be sensitized about the importance of keeping the environment clean and safe. Ultimately, improved solid waste management will lead to a reduction in infectious diseases (e.g. diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria) and chronic diseases (such as asthma) in addition to promoting the well- being of vulnerable populations (women and children) [5].

Despite the significant progress recorded by the Government of Senegal since 2003 with the implementation of the NS 05-062 standard and with the creation of a monitoring system, the air people breathe is not always of good quality, especially in the city of Dakar. In fact, the city is confronted throughout the year with worrying levels of particulate pollution far exceeding the limit values [14]. Dakar residents, informed day by day about the quality of the air they breathe, expect a lot from the action of the public authorities, but they are also one of the keys to improving the situation. This necessarily involves a renewal of the vehicle fleet, that is the gradual replacement of old transport vehicles by modern buses and taxis (vehicles with less polluting technologies) [14].

The Government of Senegal is committed to reducing the negative externalities of transport through the development of public transport systems [14]. Programs are being implemented in Senegal, including the public transportation fleet renewal program, creation of the Regional Express Train (TER) and the BRT (Rapid Transit Bus) [13]. In the industrial sector, the public authorities should strengthen regulatory requirements by imposing heavy taxes on polluting activities to encourage manufacturers to use fewer polluting technologies [14].

In Senegal, the global coronavirus pandemic is affecting the application of the law seeking to control plastic pollution. In a press release published on April 18, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Abdou Karim Sall, announced the relaxation of certain provisions of Law No. 2020-04 of January 8, 2020 on the prevention and reduction of the environmental impact of plastic products [16]. The proposed ban of single use water bags was postponed to mitigate transmission risk from shared water containers. Government measures on single-use plastic will require strong focus on awareness raising to ensure buy-in from the citizenry. Current awareness directed at the impacts of littering does not yet extend to the benefits of a transition to a circular economy [6].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Improving solid waste management for six million people in Senegal is the objective of the Project for the Promotion of Integrated Management and Economy of Solid Waste (PROMOGED), which was launched the Mbeubeuss landfill site. The project will lead to the creation of seven technical landfill centres, standardised collection points, and solid waste sorting and transfer centres. The project will also contribute to the closure or rehabilitation of some landfills in Senegal, with a direct impact on the climate through the mitigation of CO2 emissions.

The Solid Waste Coordination and Management Unit (UCG) will implement PROMOGED. The public body sets up infrastructure to standards, manages the cleaning, collection and transport of waste, as well as social mobilisation. The UCG is also leading the development of the national waste management strategy and capacity building for Senegalese municipalities. PROMOGED will cost around US$ 295 million. The funds will come from the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). In addition to reducing pollution, the Project for the Promotion of Integrated Management and Economy of Solid Waste will promote the development of the circular economy in Senegal [17].

  • Today the diesel standards in Senegal are still at 5,000 parts per million as compared to Europe at 10 parts per million, these standards should be upgraded to reduce air pollution originating from vehicular emissions.
  • The vehicle fleet is characterized by aged vehicle, which worsens the air quality situation especially in urban areas. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Senegal was the top 8th, 7th and 10th importer respectively of used vehicles from the EU. At the moment, the upper limit of vehicle import age in Senegal is 8 years, the government could consider lowering this [18].
  • At the same time, Senegal could put in place strict vehicle emissions standards for the domestic and imported fleet of light duty vehicles [18].
  • 70% of the population is still reliant on biomass and charcoal for cooking, resulting in indoor air pollution in households. There is an opportunity to accelerate the shift to cleaner cooking fuels such as LPG and biogas [19].
  • The government should ensure a stricter monitoring and implementation of the 2020 law on ban of single use plastics, as compared to 2015 [16].

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[2] République du Sénégal (2018). REVUE NATIONALE VOLONTAIRE Rapport final.

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[4] World Bank (2017). Senegal Municipal Solid Waste Management Project (P161477): Project Information Document/ Integrated Safeguards Data Sheet (PID/ISDS). [Online]. Available:

[5] Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK). Solid Waste Management and Risks to Health in Urban Africa: A Study of Dakar City, Senegal.

[6] Bonnaire, S.M.; Jagot, J.; Spinazzé, C. (2020) Circular economy in the Africa-EU cooperation - Country report for Senegal. Country report under EC Contract ENV.F.2./ETU/2018/004 Project: “ “Circular Economy in Africa-Eu cooperation”, Trinomics B.V., ACEN

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[10] World Bank Group (2016). Senegal (intended) Nationally Determined Contributions – (I)NDC.

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[14] Sow, B., Tchanche, B,, Fall, I., Souaré, S. and Mbow-Diokhané, A. (2021) Monitoring of Atmospheric Pollutant Concentrations in the City of Dakar, Senegal. Open Journal of Air Pollution, 10, 18-30.  

[15] UNEP (2015). Air Quality Policies in Senegal. [Online]. Available:  

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[18] UNEP (2020). Global Trade in Used Vehicles. [Online]. Available:

[19] IEA (2020). Senegal fuels and technologies used for cooking by scenario, 2018- 2030. [Online]. Available: technologies-used-for-cooking-by-scenario-2018-2030.