How do People In Mali Rate The Tap Water?
Travellers and residents of Mali have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data. A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.
Tap water ratings
- Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 56% Moderate
- Water Pollution 83% Very High
- Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 44% Moderate
- Water Quality 17% Very Low
Can you drink the tap water in Mali?
The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in Mali (source). Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.
Treat tap water with suspicion. It is often so heavily chlorinated that one suspects few bugs could possibly survive in it. But short-term visitors will be safer with bottled water. There are several cheap local brands, but be warned that they are only drunk by foreigners and wealthy Malians: don't rely on finding bottled water in shops patronised by "ordinary" Malians. Soft drinks such as Coca-Cola or Fanta are more widely available and safe. But remember that Coke will make you want to go to the toilet, and so may leave you more dehydrated than before you drank it - a serious problem in this stunningly hot country. Street vendors sell water and home-made ginger and berry drinks in little plastic bags. They are often iced which makes them very refreshing in the heat. Generally, you shouldn't drink these without treating them first. However, one which is called "bissap" in French and "dabileni" ("red hybiscus") in Bambara, is made from hibiscus flowers that are boiled during preparation, and so generally is safe to drink. It is a particularly delicious non-alcoholic drink you shouldn't miss. In Bamako, it is possible to purchase at most corner stores treated water in small plastic bags for XOF50; these are much cheaper, and of course more environmentally friendly, than bottles. The bags are marked with a brand name; be careful not to mistake them for the tap water that is sold in unmarked plastic bags by street vendors. Also widely sold in this way is sweet milk and yoghurt, which are normally clean because the bags are industrially filled. Fresh milk can also be bought from buckets at the roadside in some villages, although it should always be thoroughly boiled before drinking as it can carry tuberculosis bacteria (often Malians do this before selling, but it is safer to do it yourself or at least ask).
Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.
Sources and Resources
Check tap water safety for other popular destinations
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