Margareta Wahlstrom, the United Nations’ head of disaster risk, has warned that flooding caused by climate change has reached emergency levels in Senegal. Called the “Venice of Africa,” the archipelago nation has been disproportionately affected by rising sea levels and heavy rains caused by climate change. The Senegalese capitol of St Louis has been slowly flooded by backed-up seawater in recent years, forcing residents out of their homes and destroying their livelihoods.

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This isn’t a new problem: in 2008 the UN designated St Louis as “the city most threatened by rising sea levels in the whole of Africa.” Throughout the nation, towns are finding their streets impassible 10 months out of the year. The problem is especially bad during the rainy season, when the Senegal River, which borders the country to the North and East, overflows.

Senegal is not the only nation finding itself overwhelmed by rising sea levels. Pacific Island nations like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are already seeing flooding that threatens to wipe them off the map. If sea levels continue to rise at current rates, we can expect to see more and more cities around the world facing the same kind of flooding. In a sense, what’s happening in Senegal now is a glimpse into a future many of us can expect to see a few decades down the road if serious action isn’t taken to curb climate change.


Lead image © Jeff Attaway