Rising sea levels threatening Ghana’s coastal villages


Oct. 24, 2016 (GIN) – Fuvemeh, one of Ghana’s coastal villages, is vanishing because of coastal erosion.

Waves have taken whole parts of the village with them into the sea. What was once a thriving fishing community was three miles from the coast a few years back. Now the waves are just a few feet away.

“This used to be a very beautiful village – a lot of coconut trees, sea turtles, sea gulls, dolphins, sharks and whatnot,” recalled local resident Frank Kofigah. “It’s been horrible. As a result of climate change we are suffering.”

The only school in the area and a temporary replacement have also been washed away by the waves, resident Bright Agbeko told the Ghanaian news site MyJoyOnLine.

Fuvemeh was once a thriving community of 2,500 people, supported by fishing and coconut plantations that are now completely underwater. But in the past two decades, climate change and industrial activity — such as sand mining and the construction of dams and deep-sea ports, which trap sediments and prevent them from reaching the coastline — have accelerated coastal erosion here, observed Matteo Faggoto of Foreign Policy magazine..   “Gradually but inexorably, the ocean has swallowed up hundreds of feet of coastline, drowning the coconut plantations and eventually sweeping away houses,” Faggoto said.

Thousands of communities along the western coast of sub-Saharan Africa, from Mauritania to Cameroon, are at risk of being washed away.  Sea levels around the world are expected to rise by more than two-and-a-half feet by the end of the century, but they are expected to rise faster than the global average in West Africa, according to the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Kwasi Appeaning Addo, a professor in the University of Ghana’s department of marine and fisheries sciences, shared his fears. “In West Africa, infrastructure and economic activities are centered along the coastal region, so as sea levels continue to rise, it threatens our very existence and source of income. We are sitting on a time bomb.”

Residents of Fuvemeh have been appealing to government for a sea defense wall to protect the coastal belt as they not ready to relocate as suggested by the Municipal Assembly and Member of Parliament Clemence Kofi Humado. He warned that should residents continue to live in the affected areas ,their lives may be endangered.

“If we can’t find a balance between our insatiable appetite for modernity and allowing nature to replenish itself,” said Fredua Agyeman of Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, “we will always run into problems, no matter the advancements in modern science or engineering.”

Local climate activists include the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, on Facebook. w/pix of Fuvemeh


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