Côte D’Ivoire looks to protect its eroding coastline
Away from the urban centres, Côte d’Ivoire’s coastline, one of the longest in the region, is a rich mix of forests, lakes, cocoa plantations, rubber, palm oil, pineapple, and palm-lined, sandybeaches, perfect for tourism.
But all this is under threat. Climate change and rising sea levels are exacerbating coastal erosion, which affects two thirds of the coastline. The coastline is retreating about seven metres per year.
“Last week, the ocean took away part of my house while my family was sleeping inside,” a 32-year-old fisherman told journalists.
“When the big waves come, they can easily kill you.”
The Intra-ACP GCCA Programme financed two consultants to visit coastal regions, work with government departments and hold a workshop in August 2012.
The consultants travelled along the coast, visiting coastal erosion and fishermen in the region, then organised a workshop in Abidjan.
Workshop participants – which included 22 participants from government and civil society – ranked the top problems as rising sea levels, loss of mangroves, increased temperatures, changing ecology, and aggressive erosion.
Besides coastal erosion, Côte d’Ivoire and other West African countries also face the threat of increased flooding, caused by storm surges and intense rainstorms.
By sharing knowledge and understanding, the workshop helped build political consensus in the country for action on coastal erosion. In April 2018, the World Bank approved a regional project to boost the resilience of coastal communities in six countries of West Africa.
FACTBOX – WEST AFRICA - COASTAL EROSION
Climate change is set to affect coastal populations in West Africa, especially the poor, whose already precarious livelihoods depend on the quality and quantity of natural resources. Here are some more facts about the West African coastline.
- The West African coastline includes 17 countries and stretches from Mauritania to Gabon. Eight of these countries have a GDP per capita of less than US$1,000, ranking among the lowest in the world.
- Many of these countries have gone through conflict or political and social unrest in the past decade. In 2014-2015, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea suffered the worst Ebola epidemic in history.
- West African economies have been growing steadily, but they continue to depend heavily on natural resources such as fisheries, fossil fuel, minerals, and timber.
- West Africa’s coastal areas account for 42 percent of the region’s GDP, almost one third of the region’s population.
- Every year, an average 500,000 people in the region are threatened by floods and aggravated coastal erosion. Economic losses have been estimated to be about 2.3 percent of Togo’s GDP in 2013 and 3.2 percent of Mauritania’s GDP in 2014.
- The West African coastline is also susceptible to increased flooding caused by storm surges and intense rainstorms.
- Degradation of coastal resources and ecosystems is accelerating due to increasing population pressure on the coast, demand for resources, unplanned coastal development, and climate change.