08 Jun 2017
Abdoulaye Mar Dieye
Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
As the Ocean Conference is in full swing in New York, we mark World Ocean Day. Throughout this week, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger.
This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal a country, where at least two thirds of the population lives near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels, and rapid urbanization.
Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown.
Saint-Louis is a unique place. It looms large in the history of Senegal and indeed that of the whole region. It was once the seat of French West Africa (from 1895 to 1902), the country’s first capital, and the birthplace of philosopher Gaston Berger. It is the very place where the Senegal river meets the Atlantic ocean. Its bountiful delta attracts thousands of migratory birds. The pristine beauty of its Langue de Barbarie, the …