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Can the Gambia turn the tide to save its shrinking beaches? | Global development

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When Saikou Demba was a young man starting out in the hospitality business, he opened a little hotel on the Gambian coast called the Leybato and ran a beach bar on the wide expanse of golden sand. The hotel is still there, a relaxed spot where guests can lie in hammocks beneath swaying palm trees and stroll along shell-studded pathways. But the beach bar is not. At high tide, Demba reckons it would be about five or six metres into the sea.

“The first year the tide came in high but it was OK,” he says. “The second year, the tide came in high but it was OK. The third year, I came down one day and it [the bar] wasn’t there: half of it went into the sea.”

The owner of the Leybato hotel, Saikou Demba
Leybato hotel owner Saikou Demba has watched the Gambia’s coastline crumble over the years. Photograph: Sylvain Cherkaoui/The Guardian

That was in the 1980s, before most people had even heard of the greenhouse effect.

But to Demba, 71, and many others like him, it was obvious even then that things were changing. The sea was coming in further and further every year, and the coastline, bit by bit, was crumbling.

Now, the Leybato has lost not only its beach bar but, at high tide, its beach: the sea comes right up to the bottom of the terrace and splashes over the top. The erosion of the coastline is clearly visible in the cracked paving stones and exposed roots of the coconut trees. The sea grass that used to carpet the ocean floor has gone.

“Those grasses were protecting the sea, but there are no more now,” says Demba. “I also used to see turtles, big turtles. Now, none. We are in a very sad situation.”

All along the 50-mile coastline of the Gambia, Africa’s smallest mainland country, hotels and guesthouses are facing similar pressures. And, in a developing country where tourism makes up about 20% of GDP and employs tens of thousands of people, it could not be more important that they withstand them.

“We have already learned the lesson from Covid-19. Tourism is very, very important [for the country],” says Alpha Saine, front-office manager of the Kairaba hotel, one of the two most luxurious in the country.

After a prolonged absence during the pandemic, European tourists are starting to return to the Gambia, even if numbers appear significantly down. Saine hopes Covid soon “becomes history”.

Erosion has exposed tree roots and the crumbling coastline is affecting the terrace of the Leybato hotel in Fajara.
Erosion has exposed tree roots and the crumbling coastline is getting closer to the terrace of the Leybato hotel. Photograph: Sylvain Cherkaoui/The Guardian

The threat posed to the industry by the climate crisis, however, is more formidable in the long term, and no one appears to have found a solution that works for all.

On the beaches of the Kairaba and Senegambia hotels, the beating heart of the Gambia’s “smiling coast” tourism industry, a barrier of rocks has been laid that runs for several hundred metres along the shoreline, stopping the waves from encroaching too far. When the tide is low the beach is still big and, in the age of Covid, gloriously empty – but at high tide it is a narrow strip of sand.

That is not enough to put most people off. Taking a stroll in the sunshine with the waves lapping around her feet, Ann Eady – on her 15th Gambian holiday – says the barrier doesn’t bother her at all. “They’ve got to maintain the beauty they’ve got. It would be a shame for it to go,” says Eady, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

The rocks are effective, but Lamin Komma, head of coastal and marine environment at the Gambia’s National Environment Agency, is clear about the project’s limitations. “You cannot protect the entire coast with rocks. You cannot do that,” he says.

Komma, who is developing a coastal management plan for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, wants the country to focus more on boosting its natural defences, for example, planting coconut trees and mangroves, which can help keep sand in place and absorb carbon in the process.

The rocky barrier on Senegambia beach
The rocky barrier on Senegambia beach will hold back erosion for a time but natural defences, such as planting coconut trees and mangroves, are a longer-term solution. Photograph: Sylvain Cherkaoui/The Guardian

“Putting [in] hard structures, yes, it’s fine, but it’s very expensive and it only serves maybe a period of time,” Komma says. The other thing that needs to change is the country’s expectation that donor partners will foot the bill, he adds. “We cannot keep on relying on donors. We have to have mechanisms in place,” he says.

Over at the Leybato, where Demba breaks off from an afternoon feast of watermelon to talk to the Guardian, he seems in tune with this mindset. Not for him the rock barriers, or sea walls. “I have my plan: planting coconut trees,” he says. He has already planted dozens, and there are more to come.

But although hopeful and ambitious, Demba is also angry that for more than three decades he has been seeing the climate crisis coming and nothing has been done to stop it.

“I don’t think they’re listening to us,” he says, standing beside his crumbling terrace, referring to the political leaders meeting last week at Cop26.

“That woman, from Sweden I think [Greta Thunberg], they have to listen to the message she is giving the world: not for us now – I’m 71 – but the young people. Climate change is real. The floods, the fire, they are real. But we have no power to do anything about them. We are the victims, we in Africa, and we are powerless. We just want our children to have a future.”

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After death of Elizabeth II, corgi prices hit record high | International

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The first of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis was a puppy named Susan that was given to her by her parents in 1944, on her 18th birthday. The young princess fell in love with this typical Welsh herding breed. Indeed, she loved corgis so much that she would own more than 30 of Susan’s descendants over the next six decades. “My corgis are family,” Elizabeth II once said.

Corgis were often spotted walking beside the queen in Buckingham Palace, and appeared next to her in numerous personal photographs, as well as official portraits. They were an inseparable part of her image. After the queen’s death on September 8, the cost of a corgi dog has broken new records, according to the AFP news agency.

“The prices asked for by registered corgi breeders have today hit a new high, with average asking prices doubling over the past three days,” Pets4Homes, an online pet store in the United Kingdom, told the news agency. For the first time, a corgi was selling for over £2,500 ($2,678), even outstripping prices reached during the pandemic, when there was a huge spike in demand for pets.

Pets4Homes added that it was experiencing “over 10 times the volume of daily searches for corgis when compared to this time last week.”

According to Kennel Club, one of the largest purebred dog breeders in the UK, corgi prices also broke records back in 1944, when the queen was gifted Susan. “People – breeders – were servicing the market for a dog that has suddenly become very popular. It’s the 101 Dalmatians effect,” Ciara Farrell, the Kennel Club’s Library and Collections Manager, told the BBC in reference to the surge in popularity of dalmatians following the release of the 1961 Disney animated movie.

Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.
Elizabeth II arriving at King’s Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.STF (AFP)

Demand for the corgi breed rose again in the 1960s, with nearly 9,000 puppy registrations, as newspapers and television showed images of the young queen with her family and corgis. By the late 1990s, interest had begun to fade, and in 2014, the Kennel Club listed corgis in the vulnerable native breed category, with just 274 new puppy registrations.

In 2017, registrations increased by 17%, and by 47% a year later, in 2018. This period coincided with the release of the popular Netflix TV show The Crown, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth.

The last two corgis owned by Elizabeth II were Muick and Sandy, who were gifted to her by her son, Prince Andrew, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021. Angela Kelly, the queen’s dresser, said at the time: “I was worried they would get under the Queen’s feet, but they have turned out to be a godsend. They are beautiful and great fun and the Queen often takes long walks with them in Home Park.”

Muick and Sandy stayed with the queen until her last moments, sources close to the palace told the British newspaper Daily Mail. On September 19, the corgis also stood with Prince Andrew outside Windsor Castle to farewell their former owner. Outside, many Britons had also decided to bring their own corgis to say goodbye to the queen.

It is now up to Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, to take care of Muick and Sandy.

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Iran launches airstrike against Kurdish group in northern Iraq | Iran

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Iran has launched a deadly cross-border airstrike into northern Iraq to punish Kurds for their role in supporting demonstrations over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in Iranian police custody that are still rattling the Tehran regime.

The attack occurred as the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the nation to express his regret over the death of Mahsa Amini a fortnight ago, but also to accuse the protesters of being agents of foreign powers.

Activists in Iran, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said: “Our confidence is growing. We are not backing down despite the arrests. It is very beautiful. There is a belief that something is going to change this time.”

Lawyers acting for Amini’s family have, in defiance of regime pressure, filed a formal complaint against those responsible for her arrest. They have demanded a detailed independent investigation into her death, including the manner of arrest and transfer to hospital, as well as photographs and videos of the arrest, and any brain scans.

Amini, now a symbol of resistance to the regime, died in police custody after she was picked up by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing a hijab properly.

As many as 13 people were killed and 58 injured in the Iranian drone strikes on military bases in northern Iraq that belong to the exiled Kurdish Democratic party of Iran.

The KDPI said in a statement: “The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic party of Iran with missiles and drones.”

Iran said it was attacking terrorist bases, while the US described the strikes as brazen.

The KPDI urged its supporters inside Iran to return to the streets, with its London spokesperson saying: “Support for these demonstrations is building. This started about one Kurdish woman and the wearing of the hijab, but it is now something wider in over 100 cities. The chant in the streets is: ‘Death to the regime. Death to the dictator.’”

Reports on the number of deaths amid the protests differ; the Oslo-based human rights group Iran Human Rights said the figure was at least 76, while Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the toll at “around 60”, including several members of the Iranian security forces.

The regime will be desperate to ensure the protests do not extend to more working-class districts, and is likely to portray the protesters as anti-patriotic liberals at odds with the values of the regime.

Iran’s police said on Wednesday they would confront protests “with all their might”. However, the country’s minister for women’s affairs, Ensieh Khazali, said she had visited arrested women in jail and was seeking the release of those not guilty of major offences.

The UN said its secretary general, António Guterres, had called on Raisi not to use “disproportionate force” against protesters.

“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” the UN chief’s spokeperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said.

Iran has shut down the internet to prevent protesters using social media to inform the outside world of the scale of the repression. Up to 20 reporters have been arrested, and newspapers are increasingly toeing the government line that the protests are being manipulated by Saudi Arabian or western media. Some papers are staging debates on whether the compulsory hijab is required by sharia law.

The regime has continued to claim the west’s response followed what it regarded as a successful performance by Raisi at the UN general assembly in New York. But the regime is being battered by the persistence of the demonstrations and the willingness of prominent Iranians, including musicians, actors, sports stars and academics, to demand the voice of young Iranians be respected.

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, an award-winning actor, appeared without hijab to speak at the funeral ceremony of fellow actor Amin Tariokh. The Iranian football coach and former player Ali Karimi has also backed the demonstrations, as has the composer Hossein Alizadeh.

In Britain, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian dual-national who spent five years in an Iranian jail, cut her hair for BBC Persian cameras to show solidarity with the protests in Iran.

Companies said the continued shutdown of the internet was damaging business.

On Tuesday, authorities in Iran arrested the daughter of the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for “inciting rioters”, the Tasnim news agency reported. They have also been threatening celebrities and football stars who have supported the protesters.

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‘Never Had Such Pathetic Experience’: Indian Actresses Harassed at Movie Promo – Video

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sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual assaults, actress, movie, movie stars, movie star, promotion

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Police have filed a case and launched an investigation to identify and trace those who sexually assaulted the movie stars.

Two Indian actresses from Malayalam-language cinema have revealed that they were sexually abused at a movie promotion event in the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

A video of the incident shared online shows the moment when an unknown man gropes one of the actresses, Saniya Iyappan, as they were trying to get through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards. The actress can be seen turning around in an attempt to slap him, but he escaped.

Following the assault, Iyappan took to social media, saying that both she and her colleague have been to several places in the country to promote the upcoming movie — but had never had “such a pathetic experience” elsewhere.

“Kozhikode is a place I loved a lot. But, tonight while returning after a programme, a person from the crowd grabbed me. It disgusts me to say where! Are people around us so frustrated?,” the actress wrote.

She also revealed that her co-actress had a similar experience, but did not have a chance to respond to the attacker.

“She reacted, but I couldn’t in that situation as I was dumbstruck for a moment,” the victim said in a post.

“Later, I also encountered a similar experience but I reacted… I wish that no one has to face this kind of unwanted trauma in their life,” the other actress confirmed.



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