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St. Louis is Drowning by ClimateYou Assistant Editor Idiatu Jalloh

St. Louis is an archipelago city off the coast of Senegal. It was once the capital of the West African nation when Senegal was a French Colony. The city, often referred to as the Venice of Africa, is famous for being a UNESCO world heritage site. Along with this, it is currently known to travelers and locals for its beautiful French influenced architecture, colorful buildings that resemble the vibrant blue ocean right next to it. However, because of the rise in sea levels, St. Louis is also quickly becoming famous for drowning into the ocean. In fact, the United Nations designated St Louis as “the city most threatened by rising sea levels in the whole of Africa.” Alioune Badiane of the United Nations’ UN-Habitat agency, cites climate change and a failed 2003 canal project as the cause of this threat.  Climate change is exacerbating the problem because it is contributing to the rise in sea level, encroaching on the coast that separates St. Louis from the ocean. Currently, the city is being protected by a slender 17-kilometre spit of sand.

Even though Senegal is not producing carbon emissions at the rate of other countries such as China, the United States, India, or even fellow West African nation, Nigeria, it is in much more danger of suffering from climate change than those countries. The reason for this is because of Senegal’s location. With borders that include the Atlantic Ocean, the Sahel, and the Sahara, Senegal is in danger of suffering from rise in sea levels at the coast and from desertification at the interior. It is a paradigm of too much and too little water; the quintessential dangers of climate change

Already, one of the districts of the St. Louis has become a casualty to the rise in sea levels. District of “Doun Babe Dieye, settled by the Normans in 1364, was the first casualty among many districts of the Senegalese city of St Louis.”  The residents of the district were forced to evacuates as their town was taken over by ocean water only to , to move to other parts of the city that are also slowly disappearing.

The government of Senegal plans to spend seven million dollars to build a defense fortress that will protect the city from the ocean, but some residents who live in the city believe this is a temporary solution. From what they see, St. Louis is doomed to drown because every day, the ocean continues to rise. The government of Senegal cannot stop the ocean from rising, because this is a global problem that calls for a global solution. It is a climate change problem.


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