Can you drink the tap water in Mali?
In general, no.
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).
The most commonly searched cities in Mali are:
For a full list of cities in Mali, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.
World Health Organization Mali Water Summary
The World Health Organization estimates that 78 percent of Mali have access to drinkable tap water.
World Health Organization's 2017 Mali Water Data
The World Health Organization data on water quality and availability throughout Mali includes the national average, averages for urban population centers, and averages for rural areas.
|Safely Managed||A location that safe, drinkable water that is free of biological or chemical contaminants available on premise.|
|At Least Basic||Safe drinkable water is available within 30 minutes from the location|
|Limited||It would take more than 30 minutes from the location to access safe, drinkable water.|
|Year||Population in 1000s||Safely managed||At Least Basic||Limited|
What Do People In Mali Think About The Tap Water?
Travelers 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.
|Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility||56%||Moderate|
|Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility||44%||Moderate|