Senegal’s disappearing villages, which are being swallowed into the sea highlight the devastating effects of climate change. Climate change has had serious and adverse consequences for many African countries, threatening economies and livelihoods.
The fishing community of Goxu Mbath is one of many districts in the city of Saint Louis, in Senegal, which little by little, is disappearing under water. According to AFP, “scientists say climate change is exacerbating the problem with increasingly heavy rain and a rise in the sea level”.
The village sits on the Langue de Barbarie, a densely populated spit of land that is home to nearly 120,000 people. The village is prone to flooding during the rainy season and its poor members reportedly can’t afford to relocate further inland.
In response to this unfolding crisis, “the government recently announced a breakwater construction project that will cost one billion CFA francs ($1.6 million, 1.5 million euros),” AFP reported.
The first casualty in St Louis was the island community of Doune Baba Dieye, situated close to the mouth of the river. “The water has engulfed the island and the people are gone,” the former village chief, Ameth Sene Diagne told AFP.
The inhabitants of the village who depended on the river for their livelihoods lost both their source of income and their land, as the sea claimed the village in 2012.
Studies have previously highlighted the vulnerability and impact of climate change on Africa’s coastal zones, particularly in West Africa.
According to a climate change report, the “coastal nations of west and central Africa (e.g., Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola) have low-lying lagoonal coasts that are susceptible to erosion and hence are threatened by sea-level rise” and remain very vulnerable.