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A world of waste

FRANCE 24 is lucky to have thousands of Observers around the world. Every day, we collaborate with them to report on problems in their communities. Some of their problems are unique, but others are universal, such as the problem of waste management. So we decided to reach out to all our Observers and ask them: Is trash a problem where you live? The response was overwhelming.

We received photos from all over the globe. This sampling illustrates a larger truth: pollution is today a part of much of the global population’s daily lives; it’s in their streets, their rivers, and in their streams. And it is often caused by the local authorities’ failure to come to grasps with the sheer volume of waste that humans produce – whether due to poor management or insufficient means.

Unsurprisingly, population explosion has played a major role. According to a recent study by the World Bank, a decade ago, 2.9 billion people in the world lived in cities and generated about 0.6 kilos of waste per person per day. Today, there are 3 billion city dwellers, and they produce about twice as much waste – 1.2 kilos per person per day. And experts predict this trend will continue in the next decade.

Because a large share of our Observers come from francophone Africa, that’s where many of the photos were taken, but we also received photos from other parts of Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO

I wanted to share this photo of a canal in the centre of my city. It’s in a very sorry state, like many canals here. Though Ouagadougou has made great strides recently in terms of cleanliness, the canals remain full of trash. I think the government should launch an initiative to clean them up, which would have the added benefit of creating jobs in a country where much of the youth is suffering from unemployment.
Isodore Yameogo

Bergerac, FRANCE

I took this photo during a Sunday stroll through a forest near Bergerac. Isn’t nature lovely? This trash seems like it’s been here for a long time, hidden from sight. But in fact many people must have come across it, as it’s located in a hunting area.
Dominique Martin

Libreville, GABON

I took this photo in Libreville right after a rainfall. All the trash that’s thrown out on the streets gathers in piles here and there.
Abdel Nasser Komabanin

Chennai, INDIA

The rivers in Chennai are quite dirty because there is no treatment for waste water and because there are garbage dumps set up right on their shores. This is all the more distressing because these rivers give into the sea.


This photo shows the Riviera Golf neighbourhood, which is actually a nice part of the city. However, the building is full of bullet holes that date back to the 2011 post-election crisis, and it’s bordered by trash piles, which can be found all over the place.
Jean (not his real name)


Karachi is a port city and Pakistan’s economic engine. All its rivers, as well as its seashore, are extremely polluted due to the high population density. The stream pictured here runs between an industrial zone and the mostly-residential area of Nazim.
Syed Aslam

Marrakech, MOROCCO

I created a Facebook page named “Save Marrakech” where people can post photos of all the trash they see in the streets. Over the past two years, the streets of Morocco have become dirtier and dirtier. There are overflowing trash bins on many street corners. I believe the city is entirely responsible for this situation – it is its job to organise timely trash collection. But it seems to be deaf to its citizens’ complaints.
Zineb Laraqui

Lomé, TOGO

This image speaks for itself.
Adoss Togbe


The street cleaners do their best, but unfortunately most of the inhabitants of Yaounde still consider the streets and rivers, like this one, to be their trash bins and public toilets. When I confront people, they’ll often say that if they didn’t litter, then the street cleaners would be out of a job, and that would be a shame since the unemployment rate in Cameroon is already very high.
Tchoh Bennett Kuwan

Idjevan, ARMENIA

Here’s a nice little mountain river in my town of Idjevan.
Philippe Thibaud

Bamako, MALI

This dump site is located right next to two housing complexes, in the neighbourhood of Samé. As you can imagine, this is quite problematic for the people who live there…
Abdoul Aziz Toure

Reunion Island, FRANCE

Our island is littered with trash. Instead of bringing it to a dump, people just throw it outside, like pigs. A friend and I created a website to keep track of this problem. People send in photos of dirty areas, as well as places they’ve cleaned up! We have to stay anonymous, because a lot of people actually don’t like what we’re doing.
Princesse Fraise (not her real name)

Antananarivo, MADAGASCAR

Antananarivo today is known more for the trash that is everywhere than for its tourist attractions. This, in addition to insecurity, makes it an unpleasant place to live.
Mamy Andriamasinoro

Nairobi, KENYA

This aerial view shows a dump site located in the middle of Dagoretti Corner Estate, in Nairobi. This residential area smells horrible and is often full of smoke, as the trash has to be burned. The city authorities really need to remove this eyesore for the sake of the people who live around it.
Zacharia Chiliswa


The trash at this public dump, located just outside Béjaia, is burned out in the open. The problem is that it is located in a Gouraya National Park, which is actually a UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserve. Obviously, that’s not the best place for a dump!
Braham Afrite

Villepinte, FRANCE

I took this photo on a boulevard that links to a highway in Villepinte, near Paris. It appears this trash is left by the side of the road by people who are too lazy to go to a dump site!
Gerard Thomas

Nouakchott, MAURITANIA

This neighbourhood, called Socogim PS, is located in the heart of the capital. For the past couple years, it has been hit by repeated floods. Some people have abandoned their homes, but others can’t afford to move. So these impoverished families stay. It’s terrible to see children wading in these dirty waters. I fear for their health, as the stagnant water attracts mosquitoes, which can carry diseases.
Khally Diallo


This river is polluted by the sewers that pour their waste into it as it crosses the city of Beirut. It’s disgusting.
Bassam Geha


Thousands of people live on the seashore in Abidjan's Port Bouet district. They dump much of their trash near their houses, just a couple dozen metres from the water. It’s constantly overflowing onto the beach, where the waves lap it up. Not only that, but there are lots of stores located on the waterfront, and their waste water goes directly into the sea.
Coulibaly Zoumana

Casablanca, MOROCCO

In Casablanca, as you can see in this picture, there are too many cars and not enough garbage bins. There’s trash on every street corner.
Alexandra Girard

Cotonou, BENIN

This is the shore of Lake Nokoué, in the heart of the city, right by the large market of Dantokpa. The lake divides Cotonou, and serves as a giant dump site for all sorts of waste.
Joel Houngue

Sebha, LIBYA

I took this photo in Sebha, in southern Libya. There is lots of trash on the street due to a lack of concern by some citizens, but also due to a lack of public services here. In many parts of the city, there are no trash bins at all.
Khaled Wahli

Brazzaville, CONGO

I took this photo in the heart of Brazzaville, right next to residential buildings, and not far from the famous ‘Avenue de la Paix’.
Bakary Diagouraga

Kinshasa, DR Congo

In Kinshasa, you can see plastic bottles and bags everywhere. They just pile up. The population is conscious that this is a major problem, and some people try to fix it by organising clean-up campaigns, like in this photo. However, they have few tools at their disposal, and since there are no recycling centres, in the end there’s not much they can do but move trash from one place to another. I think the companies that produce all this plastic should help finance clean-up efforts.
Justin Makangara

The Observers
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