A flood control project in the Pikine suburb of Dakar, Senegal, has changed a community by redirecting flood waters into basins and creating urban gardens from the water.
Previously, the flood waters that inundated the area were left to either recede on their own – during which time all stores remained flooded and the streets impassable – or the water was pumped into the ocean.
A surface system of drains channels the water to a new underground canal. From there, the water flows through a natural filtration system and through a series of basins.
This results in a water reservoir that remains intact through the long dry season. Herb gardens, rented out for a nominal fee to families, are cultivated for market sale. The image below is a screenshot from a short film on the Live With Water project (click here to view the film), which was initiated by two local Pikine women.
There’s a strange circular aspect to this story: Created in the 1950s, the area was only really settled in the late 1970s, when people from drought-stricken regions relocated to Dakar. They were sold land that became Pikine, which is now a city of over one million.
At the time – during years of major drought – the low-lying land was dry. The area was, however, actually situated on the beds of dormant, shallow lakes. With increasing heavy rainfall during the short rainy season, beginning in 2005, the lakes did what they do. They filled with water.
So those fleeing drought ended up on flooded lake beds, redirecting an over-abundance of water into reservoirs.