Adaptation to Coastal Erosion in Vulnerable Areas| Senegal

Focus areas: Mitigation; Adaptation
Location: Joal, Rufisque and Saly, Senegal
Activity established: November 2010

Versión en español 

Adaptation to Coastal Erosion in Vulnerable Areas, is a coastal protection activity implemented in Senegal by the Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE). The activity is to protect the coastal areas of Rufisque, Saly and Joal – all just outside Senegal’s capital Dakar – against further erosion caused by sea level rise and storm surges.

The activity is one of the first of its type to receiving funding from the Adaptation Fund, which finances projects and programmes that help developing countries to adapt to the negative effects of climate change. Started in January 2011, the activity aims to reduce exposure to climate change impacts on the coast by protecting houses and coastal infrastructure - such as fishing docks, fish processing plants and even tourism - that are threatened by erosion and salt-water intrusion. Some measures the activity introduced include anti-salt dikes to mitigate salination of agricultural lands and sea defences to prevent coastal erosion.

The activity also incorporates development of coastal management policies and regulations.Senegal has a high incidence of climate-sensitive economic activities, including farming and other businesses. This is due to the high population density and the concentration of almost all economic activities in coastal areas. In Saly, for instance, within a span of just four years, the beach has been entirely submerged, prompting the largest tour operator to depart. The loss of tourism revenue has lead to a decline in household incomes as well as livelihood opportunities for many local craftsmen.

Coastal urban areas are threatened by rising sea levels and increased oceanic activity. Between the coastal urban zone and the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is a thin strip that increasing coastal forces are quickly eroding. The beach where the Senegalese national soccer team practiced some years ago no longer exists. A hotel owner, who until recently used to offer “a hotel and a beach,” now can only sell “a hotel and an ocean”.

Adaptation to Coastal Erosion in Vulnerable Areas is prioritized, implemented, and executed by local institutions and is strongly linked to the communities themselves, particularly to women. Two of the activity’s implementing entities are local NGOs - Green Senegal, and Dynamiques-Femmes, an association of women and youth. The involvement of local communities is strongly leveraged to compliment the infrastructure-based outputs with training and awareness-raising programmes.

Momentum for change

Mitigation / Adaptation

Approximately 812 awareness-raising sessions have been organized in the two years since the activity began, which targeted various segments of the community. Training sessions have also been organized, focussing on organizational development, adaptation to coastal erosion and the impact of climate change on the fishing community. Around 500 people have been trained to date, including  include women's associations, local elected officials, and neighbourhood committees. As a result, a network of coastal actors has been established, where  community members better understand the impacts of climate change and are better able to face them.

In addition, 104 radio programs were  produced. The programmes dealt with issues such as climate change and coastal erosion.

Social and environmental benefits

In Joal, a more than 3,000 meter anti-salt dike has been built, which will help reclaim 17 hectares of rice farm land. The drying area for fishery products was also  rehabilitated. Its management has been entrusted to a local committee composed of women fish sellers with the support of the municipality, benefiting some 100 women. The facility will also  help protect houses, hotels and fish processing areas from storm surges.

Similarly, the 730 metre dike in Rufisque protects the neighbourhood of Thiawelene from storm surges.

In Rufisque, the construction of a seawall along the coastline, will protect houses that are being threatened by coastal erosion, a problem which effects the town's historical heritage (as many colonial houses have been effected). As waste water management is also a problem, the NGO Green Senegal is raising awareness of residents on best practices for waste water management.

The preservation of hotels and other tourist infrastructures, as well as the fishing dock in Saly will help maintain at least three thousand (3,000) direct jobs and nine thousand (9,000) indirect, generated by tourism and fishing.


Potential for scaling-up and replication

The activity has received considerable attention from both developing and developed countries, and from different types of stakeholder groups. It is already being replicated in other countries, thereby leading to its scaling up world-wide. Some of the first projects to replicate the modality include an agriculture sector project in Uruguay, a multi-sector programme in Jamaica and the development of a coastal development project in Benin. The implementing agency of the project has been repeatedly invited to present their experience in adaptation related workshops in neighbouring countries, as well as farther afield, such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Thailand and Philippines.

The direct access modality gives countries project ownership and has an enormous potential for global transformational change in how adaptation is implemented world-wide, cost-effectively and in a country-driven manner, thereby bringing about a sustainable long-term impact. In the case of Senegal, this has turned out to reduce administrative costs. The low administrative costs of the project directly translate into making better use of allocated funds to achieve the scale of results. The fact that the level of direct international supervision is replaced with supervision by a national agency that went through a rigorous accreditation process using internationally accepted standards, has catalyzed a change in institutional dynamic by reducing distance between levels of hierarchy. This has greatly facilitated the collaboration of various types of governmental and non-governmental organizations, including a sizable community of artisanal fishermen and fish-processing industries, tourism operators, agricultural producers on the inland side of the coastal zone, a women’s group and an environmental non governmental organization.

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Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.