Plastic Coast

In the evening women are coming one by one from their houses to the water, carrying buckets on their heads to empty daily household trash into the sea. At the same time men on the pirogues are heading towards the open sea to do fishing. It could be a cycle of life, taking from the sea and returning to the sea. But the sea can’t take it anymore. The coast is becoming plastic.

A long and narrow peninsula between Senegal River and Atlantic Ocean was cut with a 4 m artificial corridor in 2003 to regulate flooding river. But since then vulnerable sandy land has been eroding in the sea and once a tiny gap has grown to 6 km! Changes in ecosystem are drastic because of the exposure to salty sea water. 200 fishermen families had to leave their homes and many bird nesting sites disappeared. Is the ocean hungry enough to swallow the remaining plastic coast of Saint Louis?

Faly, a young local, says he and his colleges from cultural centre Le Château have ideas for cleaning the coast, but the problem is deeper. Changing people’s habits and arranging infrastructure for collecting the trash should be considered. In some places they are fighting against the erosion with building embankments to prevent water reaching fishermen’s houses.

I stand in front of the ocean in the night and hear group of women singing and laughing. Big waves are crushing over their voices.

Text & photo: Uroš