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Saving Senegal’s Beach Reputation

Drownings in Senegal’s capital city Dakar have spiked this year as residents flock to beaches to take a dip in the Atlantic waters during periods of hot weather. In the first six months of 2021, 48 people have drowned in the Dakar region, four more than over the same period last year. Since mid-June, authorities have stepped up surveillance and prevention. Most of the deaths occur along the first several kilometres of the so-called Grande Cote, which runs from the tip of the Dakar peninsula to the border with neighbouring Mauritania. This coast is buffeted by the rough Atlantic Ocean, but the sheltered shoreline south of the peninsula, known as the Petite Cote, has calmer waters and is popular with tourists. Eight people drowned during one weekend alone last month, sparking nationwide concern. Most people of the city of over 3 million cannot swim, as lessons are expensive, and many ignore swimming bans on beaches that are subject to lethal rip tides. Authorities now fear the months of July and August, as young people rush for the sea to escape the heat. Aida Sow Diawara is the mayor of Golf-Sud, a locality South of Dakar. She expresses her concern, as the number of casualties keeps growing. Ibrahima Fall is the president of the Senegalese lifeguards’ association. He blames the drownings on the rash beach privatisations, as hotels and restaurants mushroom along the coast of Dakar.