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New Project Set to Tackle Nature's Fury in Senegal

May 10, 2012

Managing Flood Risks and Mitigating Storm Water Surges are Priorities

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved an innovative project designed to protect over 130,000 Senegalese citizens from recurrent floods and storm surges that have caused economic losses worth US$82 million and pushed poor people deeper into poverty.

The US$55.5 million project targets Pikine and Guédiawaye municipalities located in flood-prone, peri-urban catchment areas of Dakar which are home to 1.2 million people.  The funds will finance construction of improved drainage systems, reduce inundation risks through better urban planning and management, awareness raising campaign and community resilience, reduce incidence of vector-borne diseases through flood management, and support the development of an integrated urban flood risk and storm water management program.

“When nature goes awry, shocks such as floods and climate-induced disasters affect poor people disproportionately,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region“This project focuses on reducing vulnerability and building resilience, thereby responding directly to the needs of people living in Senegal’s flood prone areas.”

With a surface area of 197,000 square kilometers (or 122,000 miles), Senegal boasts a storied 700 kilometer (or 434 mile) long coastline that opens to the Atlantic Ocean.  Because the country’s latitudinal position lies in a transition zone between the Sahelian and Guinean climates, it suffers from significant variations in rainfall.

Senegal is vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, coastal erosion, and the risk of climate change-induced sea rise. It has the world’s ninth largest share of urban population living in vulnerable, low-elevation coastal zones.

Metropolitan Dakar, the capital city, accounts for only 0.3 percent of the country’s land mass but contributes 80 percent of economic activity, and is home to nearly one-quarter of Senegal’s population.  After a recent episode of severe flooding in 2009, the Bank conducted a disaster assessment which determined that economic losses had topped US$104 million and disrupted the lives over 360,000 people.

“This project will help the people of Senegal better manage environmental risks,” said Vera Songwe, World Bank Director for Senegal“We are pleased to work proactively and in partnership with the Government of Senegal to counter the threats to economic growth and poverty reduction efforts posed by frequent floods.”

How the Bank is helping tackle flooding

Recurrent floods are a reality in peri-urban Dakar, caused by heavy rains and unplanned urbanization.  The project will help to build capacity in key areas:

  • Better urban planning and management that integrates flood risks into local and national plans
  • Strengthening capacities of local departments such as urban planning and architecture, urban sanitation, civil protection, surveillance and land use and the national sanitation office among others
  • Local municipalities of Pikine and Guédiawaye municipalities, including a modular training program to address flood risk management and urban climate change adaptation, and community based flood risk management  and climate change adaptation.
  • Support for diagnostic studies in cities that are prone to high flood risk

Improving the living conditions of the poorest people – women and children being the majority – living in densely populated, permanently-flooded areas in peri-urban Dakar is a core project objective.   These vulnerable groups face high exposure to malaria, water borne diseases and suffer from extremely poor sanitary conditions because of overflowing septic tanks.

“We took a comprehensive approach to tackling the entire gamut of issues raised by frequent floods and the climatic risks” said Denis Jean-Jacques Jordy, World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist and project team leader based in Dakar. “We look forward to effective implementation so that the project can deliver positive development results and improve the lives of communities living in Dakar and surrounding areas.”

The project is financed by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, which helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since its inception, IDA has supported activities in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.

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