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Senegalese island keeps coastal erosion at bay with stakes in the sand

Posted on July 27, 2022

Senegal July 25 (Reuters) – Simple wooden structures padded with coconut tree fronds are helping residents of Diogue island in southern Senegal to win back stretches of sandy beach from the Atlantic swells that threaten much of the West African coast.

In some areas, half-submerged tree stumps and crumbling abandoned buildings show the impact of the waves – and the ongoing degradation of coastline, where 56% of West Africa’s economic activity is generated and around a third of its population live, according to the World Bank.

“The ocean was so far away that we used to hear it without seeing it,” said Angele Diatta, head of the women’s association in Diogue Diola village on the island in the mouth of the Casamance river, where the higher tides sometimes sweep through homes.

West Africa has many of these low-lying deltas, making its coastal ecosystems among the most vulnerable to sea level rise, erosion, saltwater intrusion and flooding, the U.N.’s global panel of climate scientists said in its latest report. read more

On Diogue, a method of driving clusters of stakes into the wet shore is helping to protect some beaches on the island. These areas have expanded by around 30 metres (98 ft) since 2019, according to the project’s organisers.

“Whenever we gain ground, we can extend the structure, add more sticks, as they say little by little the bird makes its nest,” said local primary school teacher Gilbert Bassene, who has been helping maintain the handmade beach defences.


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