Coastal erosion has devoured the old town and the lighthouse of Grand-Lahou, Cote d’Ivoire, and has led to the abandonment of homes and the loss of mangroves to firewood.
Following widespread destruction of an area that was home to several important cultural heritage sites, Grand-Lahou was relocated 18 km inland in 1973, and the population has migrated westward to Bandama.
Since then, the shoreline has retreated 1-2 meters per year, putting people and economic interests at high risk.
According to some experts, extreme climate events could cause erosion of up 20 meters per year in the next few years and drastic measures may be needed.
This concern was at the heart of Cote d’Ivoire’s national coastal areas and climate change workshop held recently in Grand-Lahou.
Organized by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MINEDD) and the West Africa Coastal Areas Management Program (WACA), more than 70 representatives from Cote d’Ivoire, West African countries and development organizations gathered to address comprehensive strategies for reducing the region’s vulnerability to climate change and the importance of a coordinated, regional approach to the management of coastal areas in West Africa.
Workshop participants concluded that actions taken at the national level by countries are insufficient to tackle the challenges, and that a regional approach is essential because coastal protection in one country causing further erosion in the neighboring country.
National and local leaders across all sectors must begin assessing vulnerabilities, and designing adaptation strategies, workshop participants noted.
Successful adaptation to climate risks depends upon good analysis and spatial planning alongside flexible decision-making processes to determine the best adaptation choices, technologies and interventions.