GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, could have a lifespan of only 40 years if measures are not taken soon: the city is being invaded by the sea, at a rate of 25 metres a year. Local homes and businesses are collapsing as water seeps in from the ocean, undermining their foundations and creating a marshland, reports allAfrica. A recent government study shows that 80 percent of the capital could be submerged in less than 20 years.
The fault appears to be due to several factors, including the city’s port changing the shoreline, water being pumped from the Senegal River, lack of proper drainage, leaks in the old pipes used for the city’s drinking water and sand taken from the beaches for construction. The latter has opened breaches in the seawall, according to one local authority.
Mauritania has one of the least secure water supplies in Africa and is extremely dry, inland from the capital, with the Senegal as its only major river.