3 Climate Change in Senegal

Shailla Fall


Satellite photo of Africa by Newport Geographic (2008)


Senegal lies in the westernmost point of the African continent and is a country that belongs to the Sahel group. Senegal has a Sudanic and Sahelian climate dominated by two very distinct seasons: a dry season from November to June and a rainy season from July to October . The climate is governed by the dynamics of strong winds. The duration of the rainy season and the intensity of seasonal distribution of precipitations vary from North to South, the annual heights of rains estimated between 1200 mm and 200 mm in the North. In general, precipitations are unstable and irregular from one year to another, and they can be very random in the northern part of the country.

There is climate insecurity characterized by recurrent droughts. The most devastating one that affected Senegal occurred between 1968 and 1972. It was during that period of great drought that the term desertification was born, in order to explain the desolation and “dramatic consequences on the ecological equilibrium and all human activities undertaken in regions North of the Saloum” . Rains are important especially for rain-fed agriculture, hydrology and all farming activities. Therefore, climate insecurity constitutes a source of vulnerability for Senegal. The issue of climate change in Senegal has become a reality today for experts and local communities. The impacts of climate change for people and the environment are now well understood. With a high rate of temperature rise all across the country, changes are felt by everyone. Research on climate predicts that Sahelian Africa will experience a 4°C rise of average temperatures around 2100 and concurrently there will be a 20 percent decline in rainfall compared to present rainfall conditions . Local populations recognize climate variability from what they experience on a daily basis and look for ways to deal with the consequences.

I) Answer the following questions

  1. What are the main causes of climate change in Senegal ?
  2. How do we know that there has been a climate change ?
  3. Senegal has a sudanic and sahelian climate. What are the characteristics of this type of climate ?
  4. Why do you think precipitation is unstable and irregular every year in those regions ?
  5. What is the dynamics of strong winds in Senegal ?
  6. Give some examples of the dramatic consequences on the ecological equilibrium and the human activities in regions of the north of the Saloum.
  7. It has been predicted that in 2100 there will be a considerable decline in rainfall. What will be the future consequence of this lack of rainfall?

II) The whole world is experiencing a climate change. Write a paragraph to explain why our climate has changed so much in the past few decades and the consequences that can be seen today. What do you think need to be done to prevent further climate change ?


Coastal Regions of Senegal

The coastal regions of Senegal are home to over 75% of the population and are the major economic regions of the country. The coastal areas are threatened with inundation and salinization as a result of sea-level rise due to climate change. In line with the priorities for adaptation outlined in Senegal’s National Adaptation Programme of Action, this project will focus on effective implementation of adaptation measures in the coastal sites of Rufisque, Saly, and Joal.

Specific objectives of this project are:

1) Implement the actions to protect the coastal areas of Rufisque, Saly, and Joal against erosion, with the aim to protect houses and the economic infrastructures threatened by the erosion including fish processing areas, fishing docks, tourism or cultural infrastructures, and restore lost or threatened activities.

2) Implement the actions to fight the salinization of agricultural lands used to grow rice in Joal, with the construction of anti-salt dikes.

3) Assist local communities of the coastal area of Joal, especially women, in handling solid wastes and fish processing areas of the districts located along the littoral.

4) Communicate on adaptation, sensitize and train local people on climate change adaptation techniques in coastal areas and on good practices, to avoid an aggravation of the various situations encountered

5) Develop and implement the appropriate regulations for the management of coastal areas.

Source: https://weadapt.org


I) Answer the following questions

  1. What are the main economic activities that exist on the coastal region of Senegal ?
  2. Name at least six big economic regions on the coastal region of Senegal.
  3. In what ways can coastal region be affected by innundation ?
  4. How is salinization a threat to coastal areas ?
  5. What are the actions that can be taken to protect the houses and economic infrastructures on the coastal areas of Rufisques.
  6. Explain how the anti-salt dike can be used to fight salinization of agricultural land.
  7. Some plants can be used to desalinize lands. Explain how the plants can desalinize the land. Give a few examples of those plants.


II) You have been designated to carry an awareness program on climate change. Write a paragraph to show how you will sensitize the local population on a coastal area struck by erosion as well as some techniques and good practices to prevent further aggravation of the situation.


Impacts of climate change on agriculture


Agriculture in Senegal is highly dependent on rainfall and favourable climatic conditions, and this makes it vulnerable to both current climatic variability and future climate change. The increase in temperatures and evapo-transpiration will increase crop water requirements and may lead to decreased yields . The expected increase in inter-annual variability, and the likely increase in drought conditions may require to shift to cultivars that are better adapted to withstand dry conditions. Any increase in precipitation would ameliorate the situation, however, given the uncertainties in the projections, the increase in evapo-transpiration and the increase in population, it is safer to plan for reduced availability of water.

Sea-level could rise by up to 1m by the end of the century , and this would put at least 110,000 people, mostly in the south of Senegal in the Cape Verde region, at risk of coastal flooding. Some studies, however, put the number of people at risk much higher. The increase in heavy rainfall events is likely to increase the incidence of floods. Possible health impacts of climate change for Senegal include an increase in water-borne diseases such as cholera in the after-math of floods, and an increase in heat-related mortality.


I) Answer the following questions.

  1. A change in rainfall will affect agriculture. Explain how it is going to impact on the economy of the country.
  2. What type of plants need to be cultivated in a region with a lack of rainfall ?
  3. What will be the consequences of a rise of sea level on the coastal regions ?
  4. How does flooding increase water-borne diseases ?
  5. What are the different diseases that may appear after flooding ?
  6. What need to be done to protect the population against water-borne diseases ?


II) A rise in sea level will not only affect Senegal, but, many countries in the world. Choose a country that is experiencing the same problem as Senegal and show its economy is being threatened. How will its population be affected ?


III) Do you think a rise in sea level will affect the biodiversity ? Show with examples how this can happen.


Source: https://weadapt.org/




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Earth textbook by Shailla Fall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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