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Saint-Louis is being swallowed by the sea. Residents are bracing for a new reality

Mamadou Thiam in Saint-Louis, Senegal on October 5.
Saint Louis, Senegal (October 5, 2022) - Mamadou Thiam was raised in a family of fishermen in Saint Louis, on the northern coast of Senegal. Every day when his mother made lunch, she would send young Mamadou to fetch his father from the shoreline. "Even if our mom hadn’t started cooking the food. Because the sea was very far from the houses. By the time you came back from calling your dad to have lunch, the lunch was ready. Nowadays, God has pushed the sea up to our houses. Climate change destroyed many houses," he said. Now he and his family live at a nearby IDP camp in Saint Louis because their home was destroyed by sea level rise and erosion.

"God has pushed the sea up to our houses," says Mamadou Thiam. "Climate change destroyed many houses."

Thiam is one of thousands who now live in an internally-displaced people (IDP) camp in Saint-Louis, Senegal after they were forced to leave their homes on the coast because of climate-induced erosion.

The problem is as simple as it is devastating: the Atlantic Ocean is expanding into Senegal, and Saint-Louis is ground zero. Every year, a little bit more land is lost to the sea.

High tides and strong currents tore down walls and rendered Thiam's home unlivable. Life in the IDP camp is his new reality, and experts warn it could be the future of tens of thousands of other people in Saint-Louis.

Listen to our full report by clicking or tapping the play button above. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.