Rising Sea Levels: How Coastal Dwellers in Accra are coping

Accra, Sept 12, GNA - Sea level rise, an emerging global phenomenon and a factor of climate change, is having a huge impact on communities along the coastal belt of Ghana.






It's also increasing coastal erosion, while many people continue to lose their livelihoods, settlements and property.

Others who own facilities like hotels, rest houses and beach resorts are also counting a huge loss as the increase in the sea level continues to have much toll on their property and threatening the survival of their businesses.

Consequently, many coastal residents continue to call for help from the government to come to their aid and provide solutions as their communities continue to suffer the impact of sea level rise.



Impact

Indeed many countries and cities are feeling the impact of the rise in the sea level in different dimensions the world over, with some cities predicted to be wiped away entirely in few years to come.

It has been estimated that by 2050, some cities in the world including huge areas of Cardiff and Swansea in Wales, as well as the state of Goa in India, known for its pristine beaches might be underwater due to an estimated considerable rise in sea levels.



Sea levels are said to have risen faster over the last one 100 years than any time in the last 3,000 years, with such acceleration expected to continue. A further 15 to 25 centimetre of sea level rise is also expected by 2050 with little sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions between now and then.



Also, it has been documented that as sea levels continue to rise throughout the century, chronic flooding will spread and more land will be permanently lost to the ocean.

Also, sea level rise can contaminate freshwater sources of groundwater and affect our drinking and tap water even in our homes.


In Ghana, many evidence abound of how most communities along the coastal regions are battling with the phenomenon and having their "fair" share of sea erosions with many communities being taken over by the sea while the livelihoods of people, mostly as fisher men, fish mongers, processors, among others have been affected or lost.

A visit by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to some communities and facilities along the coast of Accra, revealed quite a disturbing experience concerning sea level rise, as the fisher folks and managers of hotels and resorts facilities strive to survive.

The observations were scenes of hopelessness as some of the communities have been merged by the sea, with fishermen not having a shore to land their canoes, and some resort facilities being taken away by the sea.

The GNA under the Accountability and Public Participation Africa’ (CAPPA) Journalism Training on Climate Change Reporting in Africa, sought to explore how coastal dwellers were coping with rising sea level, which experts have identified as a critical impact of climate change.

The CAPPA training was organised for selected African journalists to equip them with more knowledge on climate change and its impact on the continent for the media to do necessary interrogations and education among the populations and demand accountability from major polluters of the environment.


Interactions

During the coastal visitations, Mr Isaac Kwabena Gyedu, General Manager, La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, said over the past few years he had witnessed an increased in the sea level with its impacts on the facility worsening.

He said the facility by its siting was already at the mercy of the sea but the increase in the levels and the breeze have become “stronger than before” affecting the hotel building, door locks, and electrical gadgets like television sets, CCTV Cameras, among others.

There are more cracks on the building, too and the facility deteriorating faster.
"Because the sea level is high the breeze is also high so it comes to the window level, and goes to the rooms direct.

"At first it was on the ground so at least it would be diluted a bit before it will hit but now they are on the same level so it goes straight and nothing stops them", Mr Gyedu disclosed.

He explained further that the breeze normally takes the level of the waves and so if it was high the breeze becomes high mentioning that his other facility called the Elmina Beach Resort in the Central region was also suffering same predicaments although it had a sea defence around it.

“The high level of the sea sometimes goes beyond the defence wall and overflows to the facility making it difficult to even maintain them,” he said.

Our television sets do not last longer due to the effect of the sea breeze, the painting on the buildings and even the entire structure is being affected, Mr Gyedu lamented.

“Now with those who have property along the beach maintaining and running them are now becoming more expensive.”

He said the situation was more compounded with the outbreak of COVID-19, which had reduced patronage of the facilities, with a few customers who love the beach side taking advantage of the situation to pay less prices.

Any mitigations?

On how the company was mitigating and adapting to the impact of the sea level rise, Mr Gyedu said they were now looking at items that could withstand the higher breeze, with capital injection.

He believes since the facility was owned by government through the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) with a 100 per cent shares, there was the need for the state to inject some capital into the facility.

At the Labadi Beach Hotel, Mr David Eduaful, Executive Assistant Manager, told the GNA that the increased tidal waves had also increased the amount of garbage or refuse that were carried by the waves to the beach front.
He said the garbage had increased so much so that it was becoming an affront to their operations.

“We always have to mobilise and hire extra hands to clean the beach every day at extra cost,” he stated.

He said so much moisture and salt was also getting into their electrical gadgets such as amplifiers and speakers as the wind and salt penetration had increased. "Previously, it was not happening like that."

Mr Eduaful suggested that by- laws on sanitation must work and people must be educated on the need to keep the environment clean, cautioning that when people throw rubbish into the drains and gutters “they will flow into the sea and in turn, come back to the shore.”

He said the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) must prioritise education on keeping a clean environment among the citizenry “so we all will see the need to protect our environment.”

At the Osekan Ocean Rock Retreat also in Accra, Mr Tony Mawuli, the Director of the Facility told the GNA that “yes the devastation of the facility by the sea levels is high, with increased rusting of metal bars making it more expensive to manage the facility.

However, he thinks the levels of the sea had been so for a long time and that it continued to be high and low depending on the times, “Its been so with us so we also know how to go about it.”

Mr Mawuli indicated that the rise usually brought a lot of dirt to the facility as the water sometimes overflowed into the facility.

In adapting to the situation, he said they carry out frequent renovations on the facility to keep it attractive and in shape all the time.

Fishing Communities

Meanwhile, in a visit to other fishing communities including James Town, Chorkor, Chemuanaa, Dansoman and Glefe all within coastal Accra, the community members made up of mainly fisher folks and fish mongers shared their frustrations on how the sea was ejecting them from their comfort zones and their livelihoods and even “from their way of life”.

Madam Lydia Lamptey, a resident of Chorkor said she and her family no longer have the luxury of sitting besides the landed canoes to enjoy some “fresh air.”

“The sea does not allow us anymore to have our normal way of life” she lamented.

Akwale Okine, on her part, said the sea level, which used to be further away has now come so close to “us and sacking us from our comfort zone.” We used to dry our fishes close to the shore, but we can’t do that anymore.

“Some of us even had our fish smoking ovens broken down by the high sea waves.

Mr Peter Tetteh, a former bar operator at Glefe, said the sea level rise had been able to “take my job from me”.
He said he and other neighbours used to operate mini drinking bars along the shore but the sea had washed away their structures and now they are jobless and helpless.

At James Town, Madam Tina Okine, said the sea level rise had also broken down many of their buildings but she thinks a sea defence wall would be able to save them, adding that government should pay critical attention to helping them adapt to the impact of the menace.

Madam Victoria Anobah said the waves continue to bring a lot of plastic waste to the shore and into their houses and so the entire citizens must be educated on the need to avoid indiscriminate dubbing of rubbish.

Political Authorities

On his part, Mr Francis Asenso Boakye, Minister of Works and Housing, also expressed worry over how the sea was gradually taking over coastal communities in the country, including the community around Dansoman.

He said he was overwhelmed by the level of destruction the “tidal wave attacks has caused in the communities.”

During a recent visit to some of the coastal communities to see how the situation looked like, the Minister assured of government commitment towards the Dansoman sea defence project.

He emphasised Government’s commitment to protecting coastal communities against sea rise and sea erosion, and said the Government would continue to explore more funds and invest them into sea defence projects.

“We are not only protecting the lives of people by constructing sea defences, we are protecting livelihoods and even promoting economic activities,” Mr Asenso Boakye stated

Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West and Minister of Communications, commiserated with the people, and expressed regret that half of the Akwateman community was washed into the sea.

She pledged her support towards any initiative that will alleviate the sufferings of the people.

Recommendations

Meanwhile, in an interview with the GNA, Dr Antwi Boasiako Amoah, Deputy Director, Climate Change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Co-ordinator for the Green Climate Fund’s National Adaptation Plan project in Ghana, has also expressed concern that the issue of coastal erosion resulting from the seal level rise have become a “national thing” as many coastal communities were being swallowed by the sea.

Thankfully, he said Ghana’s climate change mitigation and adaptation response strategy known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) broadly cover coastal protection, and involve both Nature based solutions and engineering works.

He said the nature based solutions specifically looks at planting of mangroves as well as the strengthening of existing mangroves along the coast.

“We are using natural processes to restore ecosystems, in this case coastal areas”.

On the other hand, the engineering aspect takes the form of sea defence walls or dykes, and all these are ongoing at the various sites and communities.

Dr Amoah said the NDCs being implemented by various state agencies and institutions have specific activities in which the coastal infrastructure that looks at sea defences, among others fall.

There is also water sector infrastructure being spearheaded by the Water Resources Commission.

He disclosed that the government was making effort under a bigger plan, involving the changing of the whole coastal landscape plan in Accra, from Labadi through Osu and to James Town, “to sort of provide a new kind of infrastructure systems that actually looks at climate change in a broader sense.”

“I also know that there were discussions of looking for investors to come in to support the plan which involves green solutions and brown ones and if that is done then this problem that we are talking about will be solved,” Dr Amoah stated.

Dr Amoah, used the occasion to urged operators of coastal resorts to be proactive in taking steps to protect their businesses from both natural and man made disasters, as government endeavours to create an environment that will protect their businesses.

GNA