The cruel lack of basic infrastructure and services in Mali means that the vast majority of trash ends up on the streets. And everywhere else. Trash literally litters every conceivable path between points A and B. It's horrendous. I've seen a lot of poverty, but everywhere I went in this country, the trash was inescapable.
Making a brief stop outside the Great Mosque of Djenné in the morning, I saw this woman burning the trash near her market storefront. Sadly, burning trash - plastics and all - is pretty much the only way to get rid of it here. It seemed like she hardly made a dent too, since there was so much trash to be had.
In the Congo, after climbing the Nyiragongo, the guides burned the empty water bottles and any other trash rather than carry it back down. I was a bit shocked, but, this is the realities of the world we live in. The basic services you might take for granted (save for a few jokes about not voting for Mayor Daley in Chicago only to find your trash not getting picked up anymore), are sorely missed in this miserably poor part of the world.
I don't even want to think about the health impacts this has. Children would be running around playing through the trash-strewn streets. Open sewers are just one misstep away from the ultimate misfortune. If there's one thing to take away from this, it's that, when in Mali, be prepared for an OCD nightmare.
A lady burns trash around her store in front of the Great Mosque of Djenné (not pictured), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.