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Coastal Erosion - Sea Defences in Senegal Classroom Resources



Through the video students are introduced to the increasing problem of coastal erosion in Senegal and how two different communities are managing the problem very differently. 

Key Issues

- Coastal erosion processes.
- The direct and indirect impact of coastal erosion.
- Coastal management.
- Coastal defences - hard and soft solutions.
- The importance of coastal areas to communities and economies.


Three quarters of the population of Senegal live near the coast in the country's most important economic region.  Rufisque is a city of 200,000 people on the outskirts of the capital Dakar. Here coastal erosion of 1-3m per year meant homes were being destroyed by the sea, so a wall was built to protect the town. The poorly designed scheme caused several problems (see video). Now US$8million is going to be spent on a new sea wall and efforts to prevent the salinisation of agricultural land. In Saloume the mangrove forests protecting the coastline were in decline due to rising sea levels and heavy rains. This caused increased beach erosion and seafront retreat. The charity Oceanium launched a massive mangrove planting project aiming to plant 30 million mangrove saplings. Mangrove forests, like other forests, are great at storing carbon and can actually hold 50 times more carbon than a rainforest. They also dissipate wave energy  protecting coastlines against tsunamis, erosion and storm surges. In addition, fish breed in the roots which helps fishermen.



Starter Activities

  Show photos showing different stretches of coastline around the world (choose a selection including major cities, tourist areas, farmland, villages, and wilderness areas). Ask students to say ‘defend’ or ‘retreat’ for each picture and give reasons why.
  Visual dominoes requiring the matching of coastal management images and definitions.


Enquiry Questions

 - Why might Rufisque not be able to use mangroves as a defence from coastal erosion in the same way as Saloume has done?
 - What should those in charge of coastal management in Rufisque do to improve the situation? Is it only coastal management approaches that need to improve?
How are climate change and sea level rise affecting coastal erosion in Senegal/elsewhere?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Compare and contrast the two coastal management methods in the video. What are the pros and cons of each? Could each method be used successfully in the other location?
  • Coastal erosion and poor coastal management can have a big impact on local communities like those in Senegal. Imagine you are a resident in Rufisque and write a letter to a friend describing how coastal erosion and the badly designed sea wall have affected your life.
  • The Saloume mangrove planting relied on community involvement. Imagine you are living in Saloume, design a poster explaining the problems coastal erosion is causing, why mangroves are needed and why people should come and help with the planting.
  • One of the alternatives to coastal defences is managed retreat. Explore when this is a better option than expensive sea defences using case studies from the UK and elsewhere.


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