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Bassirou Sambou submerged in an estuary that runs through the mangroves near his community in the Casamace region of southern Senegal. Drought and rising sea levels due to climate change have caused the salinization of the mangrove's unique ecosystem. As a result, large swaths of mangrove forests and the rich biodiversity that they harbor have been destoyed or degraded in the region. The way of life and culture of the Jola (Diola) people is profoundly linked to their environment. Their traditional livelihoods are based on rice farming and fishing. As the mangroves died off, fish stocks disappeared and rice patties were invaded by salt water, Bassirou Sambou and his friend Salatou Sambou created the Kawawana association (an acronym in the local dialect for "Let's all preserve our patrimony"). The association has managed to replant thousands of mangrove trees and have the entire area declared an "Aire du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire" (An Area of Aboriginal and Community Heritage) which allows them to protect and regulate the exploitation of the area's natural resources. Their initiative has become a model for many other communities in the region who face similar climate change threats. Mangagoulack, Casamance, Senegal. 18/04/2016.
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Photo © J.B. Russell/Panos
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Climate Change in West Africa
Bassirou Sambou submerged in an estuary that runs through the mangroves near his community in the Casamace region of southern Senegal. Drought and rising sea levels due to climate change have caused the salinization of the mangrove's unique ecosystem. As a result, large swaths of mangrove forests and the rich biodiversity that they harbor have been destoyed or degraded in the region. The way of life and culture of the Jola (Diola) people is profoundly linked to their environment. Their traditional livelihoods are based on rice farming and fishing. As the mangroves died off, fish stocks disappeared and rice patties were invaded by salt water, Bassirou Sambou and his friend Salatou Sambou created the Kawawana association (an acronym in the local dialect for "Let's all preserve our patrimony"). The association has managed to replant thousands of mangrove trees and have the entire area declared an "Aire du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire" (An Area of Aboriginal and Community Heritage) which allows them to protect and regulate the exploitation of the area's natural resources. Their initiative has become a model for many other communities in the region who face similar climate change threats. Mangagoulack, Casamance, Senegal. 18/04/2016.