Senegal’s Fishing and Farming Communities are Struggling as Water Levels Keep Rising and Temperature Keeps Increasing Causing Food Insecurity

Rising sea levels have really been affecting Senegal's coastal regions, most notoriously the old capital, St. Louis. The slum-like conditions on the shore of the fishermen's block are getting more and more crowded as the water continues to rise. Senegal loses an estimated 1-2 m of coastal land per year due to climate change, and conflicts between the city's inhabitants have erupted more frequently about things like land, resources and housing. Now, because of unusual and unbalanced weather conditions, some fishermen who take the treacherous journey to the ocean do not come back and drown never to be seen again. An incident recently happened where 300 men drowned at sea because of this, and a woman (Fatou) who I spoke to about this said, "After their deaths, chaos arose in our community, and many fought over the inheritance and insurances of the younger victims because that had not previously been discussed. God, they were so young." Sea walls have been built in many places in Senegal, however they are not deemed effective as they are prone to collapsing and are only used as a "temporary" measure. The president has made no moves towards permanent measures. This is also causing fishermen and other citizens to end up displaced, without jobs and homeless which then prompts them to try to illegally migrate to Europe, where many die on the way as well, or get involved in crime.

The drastically increasing temperatures and the now fussy rain seasons are becoming a problem for farmers and food security. In total, 1.3 million people faced acute food insecurity during the lean season in 2023. Climate change has damaged food production through frequent heatwaves, droughts – particularly in the north – and flooding. This combines with poor land management and other factors such as deforestation in the south. Riots have broken out in the northern dryer part of Senegal because of food insecurity, just a few dozen km south of Dakar. The protesters consisted of mostly farmers whose land was dying. This is not uncommon and leads to many problems such as illegal migration, land disputes, encouragement of terrorism and hatred towards the government.

Because of climate change mostly caused by wealthier countries, the lives of these already unfortunate people just keep getting harder, and their government ignores their cries for change as they are themselves overwhelmed by the crisis. Although actions have been taken to help those suffering from global warming, it is not nearly enough and everyday that passes somebody always goes hungry.

One day in the ever so unpredictable future, maybe humans will put their differences aside and focus all their energy on collaborating together to stop this crisis and have equal food security ranging from the latitudes of the UK to the ones of Senegal. However, this seems unlikely for the world’s current political and economic situation, and countries like Senegal will most likely unfortunately be left to fend for themselves as they suffer the consequences of neo-capitalism. One can now only hope that their newly elected president chooses to face these issues head on to soften the blow of the climate crisis on the Senegalese people.