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Urban sprawl development and flooding at Yeumbeul suburb (Dakar-Senegal)

C Mbow
A Diop
A.T. Diaw
C.I. Niang


Rapid development of urban centers in Africa is becoming a serious challenge for the coming decades with a wide range of foreseen social, economical and environmental implications. With the natural growth of the population, urban demography has been boosted by rural exodus triggered by serious droughts and increasing rural poverty. With the small resources available for an adequate urban management and the lack of efficient urban policy, Dakar capital of Senegal is characterized by an out of control urbanization process. Among the many impacts noted, flooding has appeared recently as a major threat for poor population leaving in the suburbs of Dakar. This study carried out at the outskirts of the town, in Yeumbeul District (17°24’ North, 14°46’ West), tries from rainfall variability, Digital Terrain Model and land cover change analysis since 1954 to track the interactions between natural and human causes of flooding occurring regularly since 1989. This integrated approach shows that the flooding process is not a mere climate variability related issue, it is tightly bound with poor urban management and occupation of irregular, unsuited land devoted to natural process. Satisfaction of housing needs was, for most poor rural dwellers, only possible through informal land markets, forcing them to settle in cheap yet risky lands. The recent extreme rainfall events reveal that most of these urban sprawls are located in flood prone areas. Environmental impacts of these flooded settlements have been examined. Serious flooding of 2005 has been a great momentum for the State and several other stakeholders to initiate various strategies that are discussed in this paper.

Key words: Flooding, rural migration, irregular settlements, Dakar, Senegal.