In Dakar, residents are fed up with repeated flooding

A few days of rain, in mid-August, were enough for the inhabitants of several districts of Dakar to find themselves with their feet in the water. Fatoumata Camara lives in Rufisque, in the city of Serigne-Mansour. The furniture of his house rests on bricks, above the water which has reached the rooms up to ankle height. “Everything is spoiled, we no longer have sanitary facilities, the parental bedroom is flooded … We are too tired”, complains the mother of the family. In addition to Rufisque, the municipalities of Cleaned Plots, Mbao and Keur Massar are also affected.

Much to the annoyance of tens of thousands of inhabitants, this scenario is repeated every year during the rainy season, the rainy season which extends from July to September in Senegal. Despite the initiatives of the State, the victims are managing as best they can. Omar Diop is looking for money to rent a motor pump that could suck up stagnant water in several rooms of his house. “But it costs 100,000 CFA francs [152 euros], I do not have the means “, he regrets.

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In emergency, the firefighters mobilize on rainy days. Insufficient. “The Department of Flood Prevention and Management [DGPI] has planned to install flexible pipes to partially evacuate the rainwater towards the canals of the motorway, but the works are several months behind schedule ”, explains Clément Michel Ntab, district manager of the city of Serigne-Mansour. Above all, he wants structural work to definitively solve the problem: “We are asking the state to help us install pipelines. “

A ten-year program

The authorities are not standing still. In the wake of his election to the presidency in 2012, Macky Sall launched the Ten-Year Flood Management Program (PDGI), a national and priority strategy implemented by various ministries and state agencies. Nine years later, more than 511 billion CFA francs (780 million euros) have been spent in this context, according to the Minister of Finance and Budget, Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo.

“At first, the toll highway was blocked by the rains, and neighborhoods like Mariste or Ouest Foire were flooded. It’s no longer the case now “, assures Pedre Sy, operations manager of the Senegalese National Sanitation Office (ONAS). Indeed, the installation of drainage canals and 43 rainwater pumping stations in Dakar and its suburbs has improved the situation. But not to completely solve the problem.

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Thus, in Keur Massar, the water table is not far from the surface of the ground. There, the second phase of the Stormwater Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project (Progep, one of the DGPI components) is underway. Following the heavy floods of September 2020, Macky Sall pledged an additional 30 billion CFA francs (45.7 million euros) for this project.

Responding to the same emergencies, the Head of State also promised an exceptional emergency budget of 10 billion CFA francs at the national level. A little more than a third of this sum arrived in direct support to the affected populations. The rest was invested in supporting firefighters, ONAS and in purchasing additional equipment for the evacuation of rainwater.

Insufficient progress

“There have been improvements, of course, but the expected results have not been achieved”, notes Babacar Mbaye Ngaraf, president of the Synergy of actors for suburban sanitation (Saaba): “A few canals were dug, pumping stations and retention basins were installed to prevent water stagnation, but we could have greatly exceeded these results in view of the sums invested. ”

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Thus, the wastewater evacuation networks are not sized to withstand heavy precipitation. “They also collect rainwater, which doubles the flow and creates traffic jams that overflow into the streets., recognizes Pedre Sy, from ONAS. Dakar is not yet covered by a rainwater drainage network, in particular because the population is increasing and the newly inhabited areas need sanitation. It is not possible to be completely immune to flooding, but more works are needed. “