This project reduces flood risks and provides an alternative way to make a living in suburban Senegalese fishing communities. “Sustainable resettlement and reconstruction in flood-prone peri-urban areas” plans to resettle households in high risk flood zones while developing a small industrial facility in waterfront neighborhoods in the Senegalese city of Saint Louis. The initiative aims to reduce vulnerability to and establish resilience in the face of climate change.
The low-lying coastal city of Saint Louis, built in the delta of the Senegal River, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Recurrent flooding of the river delta, endanger urban poor. This is particularly true for those residing in waterfront communities made up mostly of families that rely on fishing.
A partnership comprised of the city government and UN Habitat (with the support of the Japanese government) analyzed climate change hazards to conclude that two poor Saint Louis neighborhoods – seafront Guet Ndar and low-lying Diaminar – are particularly vulnerable to flooding and storm surges. The initiative identified 68 of the most vulnerable families for relocation to newly built homes.
At the same time, to reduce dependency on fishing that may not be reliable in the face of climate change, the project sought to diversify livelihoods by developing a small factory where residents can be trained in producing prefabricated housing modules adapted to the local context .
Helping the planet
Environmental benefits include the establishment of a buffer zone on the coastline, and improved environmental conditions at the new relocation site. Plans for tree-planting both in the new buffer zone as well as elsewhere in the city are being developed. More trees help to stabilize the soil, create more land stability in the case of storms or flooding, and fix carbon from the atmosphere. Reducing pressure on fish stocks allows them to replenish.
Artisanal fishers gain the opportunity to learn another way to make a living. Resettled families face fewer risks, and gain improved housing and official land title, something they lacked in the old neighborhoods.
Other highly vulnerable families could be relocated using a similar graduated response to combining resettlement methodologies with adaptation to climate change. That Senegal’s prime minister visited the site in 2012, personally committing to build a school and extend basic services in the resettled community, shows how momentum can be built to combine climate change adaptation with development goals.
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