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Flooding in the Sahel: Living with and Managing the Impacts of Climate Change in Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, Senegal

Submitted by Michael Rastall 10th September 2014 11:45

The Senegalese municipality of Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, located in an ecoregion characterized by a sequence of sand dunes and valleys (see Note 1 below) in the Sahel, is particularly affected by increasing temperatures, strong winds, heavy rainfall and flooding. These events are being attributed to climate change by the local population. They aggravate the vulnerability of already poor communities and threaten their human development. As part of the Climate Change Capacity Development (C3D+) project, the Senegalese NGO ENDA-Energie engaged with local stakeholders to analyze existing challenges and support the promotion of effective adaptation strategies.

Issue

Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao is situated in Pikine, the poorest department of the region of Dakar. Social and economic vulnerabilities are being exacerbated by climatic events in the form of intense rainfall, increasing temperatures and strong winds. In particular, flooding, as a consequence of intense rainfall, has become a major challenge for the local population. Local communities are unable to effectively address this issue, as they lack a clear understanding of the problem, of their own vulnerabilities and exposure to climate change, as well as of their possible adaptation options. 

Action

In order to help affected communities to better understand the climate vulnerabilities in Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, ENDA-Energie decided to conduct an in-depth study. They contacted local stakeholders and held a capacity-building workshop for 10 representatives of 2 community-based organizations, 5 community radio broadcasters and 5 students from a local student association. This event was designed to introduce participants to the key concepts of climate change. It also provided them with the skills and tools to undertake a local vulnerability assessment and to communicate the concept of climate change risk within the community. After the training, given their in-depth understanding of the selected communities, the representatives of the 2 community based associations acted as local researchers and, in collaboration with the student association, used their new knowledge to analyze the situation of Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao. This research activity was funded by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). It comprised a literature review and field research. Mapping of vulnerabilities and risks was carried out through a mapping exercise as well as a series of 8 focus group discussions, each including between 12 and 15 participants, within the two selected communities. An additional 15 interviews with key informants and 40 households were also undertaken. A case study report was then compiled and published on ENDA-Enegie’s website. 

Impact

The study provides an analysis of how climate change affects the local population as well as suggestions for addressing it through the development of adaptation strategies. The research found that, according to the literature (see Note 2 below) and testimonies, increasing temperatures, strong winds and intense rainfall are manifestations of climate change. Increases in intense rainfall – combined with other factors such as uncontrolled urbanization, impermeable soils, and lack of adequate drainage and sanitation systems – make it difficult for water to drain away, causing localized flooding. Stagnant water persists in and around many houses all year long. Flooding was first recorded in the area in the 1980s but since 2005 has become almost an annual phenomenon. The presence of water due to flooding facilitates the emergence of disease due to bacteria and mosquito proliferation, as well as respiratory disease due to development of mildew on walls. Many houses have also become unsuitable for habitation as a result and have been abandoned. Public infrastructure, such as schools and health centers, is also affected. 


An abandoned house due to flooding. Photo credit: ENDA and IIED, 2013. Available at: http://endaenergy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/rapport-final-enda-iied1.pdf

Communities have been coping through physical measures such as water pumping, dumping sand, and construction of small dams, as well as through social measures by providing assistance to victims through local associations, and developing small businesses to compensate for the deterioration of the economic status of affected families. However, according to the study, most of the strategies developed so far to fight against flooding are neither effective nor sustainable. The only sustainable action that it identified is the construction of drainage canals to evacuate surface water. 

The study concludes with a list of suggestions for sustainable urban planning in Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao collected through the focus groups, to be presented to local policy-makers. Key suggestions include: promoting transparent and participative governance on environmental issues; relocating the population living in permanently flooded areas; developing effective sanitation and drainage systems; developing systems to treat wastewater and rainwater as well as to collect garbage; promoting the development of green jobs; enhancing woodlands to contain water flows and promote carbon sequestration; promoting the construction of resilient buildings; and developing an early warning system for climatic events. 

This analysis is also being made available to other people facing similar challenges from flooding. The purpose of this work is to help communities to better engage with local policy-makers and support the shifting from coping strategies to a planned adaptation response in the medium and long term.  


Notes

1) This ecosystem is called “les Niayes”.

2) References can be found in the report Evaluation et réduction de la vulnérabilité au changement climatique dans les villes africaines - Le cas de la Commune d’Arrondissement de Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, Pikine (ENDA and IIED, 2013) available at http://endaenergy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/rapport-final-enda-iied1.pdf

3) Cover photo credits: Evaluation et réduction de la vulnérabilité au changement climatique dans les villes africaines - Le cas de la Commune d’Arrondissement de Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, Pikine (ENDA and IIED, 2013) available at http://endaenergy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/rapport-final-enda-iied1.pdf

References

Evaluation et réduction de la vulnérabilité au changement climatique dans les villes africaines - Le cas de la Commune d’Arrondissement de Diamaguène Sicap-Mbao, Pikine (ENDA and IIED, 2013), available at http://endaenergy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/rapport-final-enda-iied1.pdf

Compte rendu de l’atelier Comprendre l’évaluation et la réduction de la vulnérabilité au changement climatique dans les villes africaines (le cas de Pikine) (ENDA-Energie 2012)

Final Narrative Report – C3D+ project 2011-2013 (ENDA-Energie 2013)

UNITAR, through the Capacity Development for Climate Change (C3D+) project, strengthens capacities of Non-Annex I countries and institutions to address climate change through nationally appropriate measures and planning strategies.

Cristina Rekakavas, C3D+ coordinator, writes about how C3D+ partner ENDA-Energie is supporting communities in Senegal to understand and manage the impacts of climate change.