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Flood Turns Senegal Town Into Fetid Swamp

By Lane Hartill

For three months, thousands of Senegalese had been living in and tiptoeing around warm stagnant floodwater. And this had Malick concerned.

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As the head of Catholic Relief Services' health program in Senegal, Malick Ndome is worried about them.

Because they are his neighbors.

Malick lives in Pikine and he saw firsthand the flooding this year. It's become a yearly occurrence, as his neighborhood, which is home to almost 1 million Senegalese, is a former swamp with almost no drainage systems.

The flooding blocked roads, disrupted garbage pickup and caused septic tanks to overflow. The mosquito population exploded. The residents of Pikine moved in with friends or rented expensive apartments. They slept on roofs and dumped their garbage anywhere they could.

They were forced to adapt to their new conditions: They hiked up their dresses and pants, held their noses against the stench, and got used to it.

CRS and our Church partner Caritas decided to help. Malick led the effort and managed the purchase of water pumps to clear flooded homes, organized garbage collection and distributed water purification tablets.

Now, after months in water, Pikine is finally drying out thanks to Malick and CRS.

Lane Hartill is the western and central Africa regional information officer for Catholic Relief Services. He is based in Dakar, Senegal.

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