News / Africa

    Sea Erosion Leaves Thousands of Liberians Homeless

    FILE - A young boy looks out from the window of his dilapidated home on the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean where his family lives in Monrovia, Liberia.
    FILE - A young boy looks out from the window of his dilapidated home on the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean where his family lives in Monrovia, Liberia.
    Jennifer Lazuta

    The homes and businesses of thousands of poor people living on Liberia's coast are being swept away by rising sea levels. Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency says a project is underway to help stop the erosion, but that there is not enough funding.  

    “The situation is terrible. The sea erosion has taken away our homes," said Joe Muffer, who lives in Grand Bassa County’s Buchanan City, one of several areas that have been badly affected by the erosion.

    "Right now, we have had to relocate my family to an abandoned school building because as you can see the sea erosion is still tough. The sea is rising every day, every moment. We are in dire need of help right now," he explained.

    Offshore sea walls

    Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency is aware of the problems the rising sea levels are causing and has been working to control the erosion.

    Stephen Y. Neufville, deputy executive director of the EPA, said, “The first phase of the project is ongoing. There have been some drawbacks, but we are responding to the impact of the sea encroaching on the city, and therefore putting boulders and other things to minimize the impact.”

    Neufville said the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy has spent $6 million on various projects throughout the country to reduce the negative effects of climate change, including sea erosion.

    He said $2.4 million is being spent for the ongoing phase I, which is constructing offshore sea walls to help stop the waves from further eroding the shore.

    But Liberia’s steering committee on sea erosion estimates that at least $18 million will be needed to complete the project.  

    Residents, meanwhile, have been building protective sandbag barriers in front of their homes to keep the sea water at bay. For many, however, this has not been enough.

    Tom Okai, who lost his home to the ocean earlier this year, said that more needs to be done to help both the victims and those still at risk.

    “We do not have anywhere to go. We have been asking our local government and the international [community] to see if they can help the government to help us," said Okai. "Our houses have been around for years and right now the government is not putting money anywhere.  So we are getting discouraged.  We do not know what to do and we do not know where to start from because we do not think the government sees us.”

    Relocation efforts

    Authorities say that they have tried to get people living in the most vulnerable areas to relocate, but most refuse to leave, because the government is unable to offer resettlement packages.

    Neufville said residents who have been forcibly removed often return to rebuild, or else settle illegally in neighboring high-risk zones.

    “People have to be mindful where [they] construct buildings. You need to get the necessary permits," he said. "We stop people from building in waterways, encroaching on the drainages, but nobody pays attention.”

    Neufville said the EPA continues to meet to discuss new strategies for fighting sea erosion, as well as search for more funding.

    Prince Collins contributed to this report from Monrovia.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora