Saint-Louis city is located in the coastal zone at the mouth of the Senegal River. The historic city, registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, is exposed to multiple natural hazards, including floods (inundation from both the sea and Senegal River), coastal erosion, and saltwater intrusion. Climate change impacts such as sea level rise (SLR) and increased frequency and intensity of storm surges and gale force winds are exacerbating vulnerability to these hazards. Home to just under 300,000 inhabitants, the city is separated into three geographical areas linked together by the Faidherbe Bridge: the thin Langue de Barbarie peninsula on the western coast; the old town on N’Dar Island on the Senegal River; and the mainland, Sor, on the river’s eastern bank. Informal settlements are spread throughout the greater city, making up 30 percent of the urban space. Human induced impacts are also acting to increase the city’s vulnerability, including, i) high population growth; ii) ecosystem degradation; iii) insufficient urban stormwater management; iv) deficiencies in urban waste management and sanitation infrastructure and services; and v) poor planning and management resulting in increasing informal settlements and encroachment into fragile and flood-prone areas.
The Open Cities Saint-Louis project complements ongoing World Bank project activities in the city, such as: the Climate Change Adaptation Project (PROGEP), the Saint-Louis Emergency Recovery Project (SERP) and the West African Coastal Areas (WACA) project. It is also directly supported by City Coastal Resilience in Africa (CityCORE Africa), a World Bank technical assistance project enabling coastal resilience policies and investments in selected coastal cities of sub-Saharan Africa. Exposure data for Saint-Louis are outdated and incomplete, therefore the Open Cities Saint-Louis project will collect attributes related to buildings, drainage and roads in all neighborhoods of the city. The City Planning and Development Office (ADC) and Senegal’s urban departments (DUA and DRUH) will serve as the Open Cities project’s primary government counterpart for the city. Improving these databases will be a critical element to support effective data-driven urban planning and increase urban resilience.