Ivory Coast, Coastal Erosion, Environment

Ivory Coast, Coastal Erosion

Ivory Coast town sinking underwater as coastal erosion advances

Ivory Coast town sinking underwater as coastal erosion advances

10/9/2019 4:33:00 PM

Ivory Coast town sinking underwater as coastal erosion advances

The village of Lahou-Kpanda is sinking. In the past 30 years, residents of the once-thriving historic town 140 km southwest of the Ivorian capital ...

BookmarkLAHOU-KPANDA, Ivory Coast: The village of Lahou-Kpanda is sinking. In the past 30 years, residents of the once-thriving historic town 140km southwest of the Ivorian capital Abidjan have seen their prison, hospital and school be subsumed by the waters.

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Some of the villagers have started to exhume the bodies of relatives, for fear of their graves being lost to the sea. Not all have managed to do so on time.AdvertisementAdvertisement"Today we live in anguish. What will happen tomorrow if no one comes to the help of the village? We will disappear," said Daniel Loha, one of the village elders, walking by the graves.

"In Africa, our parents, our ancestors are very important to us and to see them scattered in the sea is heartbreaking and every day that God brings to us we are haunted."Stones of the civil prison, the last remnant of the colonial building that collapsed a few months ago, are pictured at Lahou Kpanda village, in Grand-Lahou, southern Ivory Coast, on Aug 9, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago)

In West Africa, where a third of the population lives along the coast, rising sea levels linked to the melting of the polar ice caps are conspiring with coastal erosion to slowly submerge communities.AdvertisementAdvertisementYet experts say poorly planned construction too close to the coast or using coastal sand as a building material worsens erosion and renders buildings vulnerable.

Every year in the main town of Grand-Lahou, in which Lahou-Kpanda is located, the water advances further. It had to be relocated nearly 20km inland in the 1970s.Graves that have been ravaged by the encroaching sea are pictured at Lahou Kpanda village in Grand-Lahou, southern Ivory Coast on Aug 1, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago)

Samuel Amoussou, a fisherman who moved out of his home last June, walks through the remains of an abandoned house at Lahou Kpanda village in Grand-Lahou, southern Ivory Coast, on Aug 12, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago)Residents tried to include Grand-Lahou on the list of UNESCO protected sites in an effort to shore up funding to save the peninsula, but local experts say it is too late as historical buildings have already been lost.

The degradation of its coast cost Ivory Coast nearly US$2 billion in 2017 or nearly 5per cent of its GDP, according to the World Bank, making it one of the worst-hit countries in West Africa.For the whole of West Africa that figure rises to over US$3.8 billion a year.

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