Dakar residents mobilise against makeshift landfills

On the left: a screengrab of a video filmed by Moustapha Diallo. At the right, a photo taken by Lamine Toure and labeled '#SelfieDéchets', or '#RubbishSelfie'.
On the left: a screengrab of a video filmed by Moustapha Diallo. At the right, a photo taken by Lamine Toure and labeled '#SelfieDéchets', or '#RubbishSelfie'.


A number of makeshift landfills have been sprouting up on the outskirts of Senegal's capital Dakar. As a result, annoyed residents have been sending the France 24 Observers photos and videos of these unpleasant sites.

The Mbeubeuss landfill, which is located in the town of Keur Massar, is one of the largest dumps in West Africa.

The landfill is a busy place, filled with people working – mainly unofficial workers, but also some people employed by the government to manage waste.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Point, Lamine Kebe, who heads the government-run UCG waste management system, said that this landfill was comparable to “a bomb” dropped on the local environment and that it had negative effects on local communities. But he also said it would be impossible to close the site as there is nowhere to transfer the rubbish to.

"Medical workers told me that my windpipe was all black from the smoke”

Moustapha Diallo, who lives in Keur Massar, filmed three videos to show the negative effects this landfill has had on his community.

I live near the Mbeubeuss landfill. Every Friday, they burn the rubbish there and lots of smoke comes into my neighbourhood. It’s hard to breathe. At night we have to use fans to make it bearable. Thankfully, there is no smoke the rest of the week.

This has been going on for some time. I moved here in 2015 and it was the same back then.

Sometimes, when you wake up in the morning, you have to go to the bathroom to spit. People cough. One time, I went to the hospital and the medical staff told me that my windpipe was black from the smoke. Other people from my community have been examined and told the same thing. It’s really worrying.

In the videos below, Diallo shows the smoke that emanates from the landfill.

While the Mbeubeuss landfill is the largest, there are many other informal landfills that have sprung up around the capital.

"I think that this rubbish constitutes a public health concern because kids play in this area”

Lamine Toure took a photo of waste piling up in Pikine Ouest, a neighbourhood to the east of Dakar.

There’s discarded plastic, faeces and animal skins from a nearby slaughterhouse. There’s also waste from a nearby market.

Workers who come to this neighbourhood are responsible for some of this waste. However, local residents also toss garbage here because there is no rubbish collection service. Rubbish has been piling up here for some time. I stumbled across this rubbish heap for the first time three years ago when I was on my way to university.

I decided to take pictures of this rubbish because I think it constitutes a public health concern, especially because kids play in this area. I’m also frustrated that there are piles of rubbish like this all over Dakar.

Senegal is far from the only country experiencing a pile-up of rubbish. We’ve received similar photos and videos from Mali and Guinea.

>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: "In Mali's capital, illegally dumped trash is clogging waterways

>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: "Rubbish-selfies': How a blogger is trying to shame Guineans into cleaning up the capital"


Does your neighbourhood have a similar problem with rubbish? Send us your photos or videos by email ( You can also contact us on Facebook or WhatsApp (+33 6 30 93 41 36)


This article was written by Chloé Lauvergnier (@clauvergnier).