Senegal’s pink lake threatened by flood after heavy rains

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Senegal, like other countries in the West and Central Africa region, has recorded above-normal rainfall in recent weeks, causing devastating floods.

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After days of torrential rains, salt miner Moussa Dyre could only watch in despair as floodwaters breached a meter-wide gap along the banks of Senegal’s Pink Lake and washed away the mound of salt he collected thousands of dollars worth. did.


“It’s the first time I’ve seen it. I lost a lot of money with my salt that has washed away and dissolved with water,” Dyer said Tuesday.

Senegal, like other countries in the West and Central Africa region, has recorded above-normal rainfall in recent weeks, which has triggered devastating floods after poor drainage systems failed.

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The lake, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a strip of dunes, is located approximately 35 kilometers (20 mi) from Dakar, the capital of Senegal. It is one of the most visited sites in the country and is under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Officially known as Lake Retba, it gets its pink color from an algae that produces a coloring pigment, and, like the Dead Sea, is also known for its high salt content.

Dire is one of more than 3,000 people who earn a living from the lake, including hundreds of divers who manually extract salt from the bottom of the lake, producing about 38,000 tons annually. Salt is used for cooking and is exported throughout the region.

Due to incessant rain in Senegal, which recorded about 126 millimeters (five inches) last weekend, according to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, the drainage system and retention reservoir quickly sank and flooded the lake. led to

According to Senegal’s Civil Aviation and Meteorological Agency, more than 50 mm (1.9 inches) of rain is considered “extreme” in the country.

As the flow reached the lake, the water level rose, flooding dozens of mounds of salt, said Babakar Ba, another miner, who was trying to save his remaining mounds.

Abdoulaye Feti, a hydrologist and lecturer at Dakar’s Sheikh Anta Diop University, told Reuters news agency that rising water levels in the surrounding plateau have naturally led to deposits in the lower lake.

He said that since the lake has received abundant flood water, it may have an effect on the salt content and colour.

With a month to go before the end of Senegal’s June–October rainy season, other businesses around the lake, including restaurants and flat-bottom boat operators who take tourists on excursions to the lake, are also working on their own. Counting losses and worrying about the future.

“Visitors are attracted to the feeling of swimming because of the amount of salt on the surface of the lake. Currently, no one can swim here,” said Abdou Sei Dieng, who runs a campsite on the coast.

The government has activated a national plan to help communities affected by perennial floods, and a mission from the Ministry of Water and Sanitation is expected to visit the lake soon.

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