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Ghana’s Coastal Communities Threatened by Erosion, Sand Harvesting


Ghana's Coastal Communities Threatened by Erosion, Sand Harvesting
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Ghana's Coastal Communities Threatened by Erosion, Sand Harvesting

Tidal waves and coastal erosion have submerged an entire fishing community on Ghana's eastern coast. Many villagers already had been relocated because of past tidal waves, and they have petitioned the government for a permanent solution.

The RC Primary School lays in ruins after what authorities say in November was the largest tidal wave to ever hit Ghana’s eastern coast.

It was the third re-location of the school farther inland after two previous sites were completely submerged along with the Fuvemeh village fishing community.

Fuvemeh Assistant Head Man Knowledge Dewornu says no matter how many times the villagers move farther from the shore, flooding and coastal erosion have brought it right back.

“So, it started in 1997 and it did not destroy all the land, it destroyed part of it. And in 2016, it also destroyed part of it again, and [in] 2018 it destroyed all the land at Fuvemeh, so you can't see anybody at Fuvemeh now. So, these are the villages near Fuvemeh, which is now being destroyed by the sea again,” Dewornu expressed.

The once thriving fishing village of 2,500 people has been reduced to a few hundred, who are struggling to keep their heads above water.

A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) study says 37 percent of Ghana’s eastern coastal land was lost by erosion and flooding between 2005 and 2017.

Emmanuel Gemegah, chief executive of the coastal town of Keta, blames rising seas from climate change, as well as human activities, such as building dams and ports and harvesting sand from beaches to sell for use in construction.

“So, as the chairman of the MUSEC, the Municipality Security Council, we held a meeting, and we came out with an order, which seeks to ban the fetching of sand from the beaches until further notice,” he noted.

In a meeting with authorities, Fuvemeh villagers said the ban was not enough.

Seji Saji Amedonu, the deputy director of the National Disaster Management Organization, calls for building a sea defense wall, as has been done on some other areas of the coast.

“The whole shore of Ghana, from Axim to Aflao, that protection needs to be done. Because if we protect one particular place and leave the others, the devastation will continue. But it is capital intensive. We are just hoping that along the line, government will find the money and do this thing and solve the problem completely,” Amedonu pointed out.

While all of coastal West Africa suffers from erosion, Ghanaian experts say their country’s long coastline – almost 550 kilometers – makes it most vulnerable.

The University of Cape Coast’s Center for Coastal Management says Ghana’s shoreline moves inland an average of two meters annually.

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