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‘We have to use a boat to commute’: coastal Ghana hit by climate crisis | Ghana
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‘We have to use a boat to commute’: coastal Ghana hit by climate crisis | Ghana

Houses in Keta destroyed by a wave


WJohn Afedzie was familiar with the landscape that aves have taken. “The waters came closer in the last few months, but now they have destroyed parts of schools and homes. The entire village has been swept away by the waves. One needs to use a boat to commute now because of the rising sea levels,” he says.

Afedzie lives in Keta, one of Ghana’s coastal towns, where a month ago high tide brought seawater flooding into 1,027 houses, according to the governmentHe was one of approximately 3,000 people who were made homeless overnight.

For years, Keta was slowly being eroded due to rising sea levels and storms. But people woke up on 7 November to find seawater flooding their homes and schools, as well as churches, before dawn.

That morning Keta, and neighbouring Fuveme and Salakope joined Vodza, Adzido, Abutiakope and Kedzikope – villages and towns that once dotted the west African country’s shore but have all but disappeared under water.

“It started Saturday evening. We saw that the water was getting closer, but we didn’t know it would flood this place. The water was everywhere by Sunday morning. All our things were affected by the flood,” says Janet Nubueke, from Keta.

She says that the people will continue to move away the water as long the sea is a threat. They are asking for the government’s help to relocate them.

Houses in Keta destroyed by a wave
Keta was hit hard by seawater in November, leaving around 3,000 people homeless.Photograph by Ernest Ankomah/The Guardian

Ghana’s coast stretches for 340 miles (550km) along the Gulf of Guinea. A quarter of its population lives along the coast. Ghana is currently being permanently affected by coastal erosion. The country’s economic powerhouse is along the coast, including 80% of its industry, oil and gas production, thermal and hydroelectric power generation, as well as agriculture and fishing. A study by Unesco found that 37% of Ghana’s coastal land had been badly hit by erosion and flooding between 2005 and 2017.

Construction of a sea-defence barrier began under the administration of the late President Jerry Rawlings, but was stopped by political leaders and a change in government.

An aerial view of groynes on beaches on the Ghanian coastline
Groynes built along beaches as part of the Keta Sea Defence Project.Photograph by Ernest Ankomah/The Guardian

Many studies have shown that sea defence walls can play an essential role in reducing erosion of sandy soil along coastlines and that stabilising shorelines to prevent inhabited areas from flooding is possible. Many people are still living in temporary shelters and waiting for new homes. They don’t have the confidence that the political will to complete the project.

Experts warn of more extreme weather and natural disasters in the coming years. The remaining inhabitants of Keta have to live day-to-day, fearing the next storm, or the rising tide.

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