Senegal Forecasts Climate Change Changes

Senegal is an African country on the west coast of the continent. The country is on the forefront of global warming’s impacts.

“Climate change makes life harder for Senegalese farmers in many different ways: shorter rainy seasons, more frequent and longer dry spells and droughts, a lower water table, floods, coastal erosion, destruction of mangroves, and disruption of fish stocks. But most pernicious of all is the salinization of soil across large tracts of coastal and riverine farmland,” reports the IRIN news agency.

Salinization is an example of a problem that is likely to effect many areas in the United States.

“For decades in Sine-Saloum, the soil, which used to be known for its quality and productivity, has been badly damaged by climate change, which has led to the salinization of the waterways of the delta,” explained Seydou Cissé, who works at Senegal’s National Institute of Pedology (the study of soils).

In an attempt to abate the problem, anti-salt dykes were built. They did help for a while; however, man’s plans do not compare to the force of nature. Already several islands along the Saint-Louis river have been washed away. “Three or four days after the rain, everything goes white. There are piles of salt. All the crops we sow die. All this is due to the salinity caused by the rising waters of the sea. And when we store valuables in our rooms, rust eats away little-by-little and eventually destroys them,” said Fatou Faye, a resident of Diamniadio island said in 2015. Since that time, the island has been washed away.

“When the sea enters in the river, because you have increasing of salt, it has killed many mangroves. And you know the mangroves are the nurseries of all the seafood,” said Aissata Dia of Actionaid Senegal.

“When the tide is high, the water goes into the kitchen and then gradually the water enters the rooms. My kitchen was rebuilt last year, but even today it is threatened by the rising waters. The high salinity of the seawater eventually breaks down even the cement. After three years, the building collapses,” said islander Faye.

In 2017, a sea wall built to help protect Senegal failed. The miles long breach is not repairable.

Reuters reported in May of 2017: “As Senegal’s coast crumbles, residents ponder move to safer ground”

“A French man told us once that there will be a time when this land won’t exist,” said Badiane, who lives in the working-class district of Guet Ndar. “Maybe in 30 years, maybe in 50. I don’t know.”

“(The people) are trying to fight, but in reality the phenomenon has become very serious,” said Abdou Sane, a former parliamentarian based in Dakar who has spearheaded efforts to reduce the threat of disasters. “It exceeds the means of the government, the means of communities,” he added.

Experts have urged the government to relocate other communities before they face a similar fate.

A UN-Habitat program in 2011 helped move about 60 families out of Guet Ndar to a settlement a short distance inland.

“That’s a way of being resilient,” said Mateugue Diack, a professor of agronomy and disaster risk reduction at the nearby Gaston Berger University.

But communication was lacking and people were reluctant to move, he said. The relocation effort fizzled out before it was completed.

Guet Ndar is populated primarily by fishermen whose families have lived there for generations. Most of those who have lost their homes have remained in the overcrowded area, squeezing in with relatives and neighbors.

“Unfortunately my country is one of those that has this huge problem. We always record that something may happen, that something has happened… but still do nothing,” said Diack.

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