Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Will rising sea levels drive the population away from Saint-Louis?

Saint-Louis is a coastal city of almost 300 thousand people in Senegal. It is situated by the mouth of the most important river of West Africa, the Senegal, and its old town is on a peninsula between the ocean and the river. Its highest point is less than four metres above sea level, so the city is particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change.

“Saer Diop lives in Saint-Louis. He has always been aware of the power of nature. He was 13 when he lost one of his brothers and his uncle when their boat was capsized by a storm while they were out fishing. Today, Diop is 34, and he is no longer safe even on dry land.

Two years ago he woke up one night to a huge wave crashing in through his window.

A few months later his house collapsed, and he became one of the 10 thousand residents of the city who were moved to a temporary camp on the edge of town because of the water’s destruction” – we learn from an account published in CityLab about the story of one local resident impacted.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has stated that Saint-Louis is the city most threatened by rising sea levels in the whole of Africa. It ranks first on the list of cities that climate change is expected to render uninhabitable over the next few decades.

The erosion caused by the rising sea is constantly damaging the coastline of Saint-Louis, with the result that hundreds of schools, mosques and residential buildings had to be abandoned. In addition, the rising sea also results in the water of the Senegal River becoming increasingly saline, which has wreaked havoc with the previously abundant agriculture of the river valley. What’s more, the rising water level has also rendered the ocean itself more hazardous: fishermen claim that it has become rougher and much more unpredictable.

The old town of Saint-Louis Video: YouTube
Further information: CityLab

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