Coastal erosion: West Africa to focus on research

ABIDJAN – Confronted with the issue of coastal erosion, a number of countries located on the seashore intend to put research at the centre of resilience efforts. According to a World Bank’s study [Cost of the deterioration of the West Africa coastal areas: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Togo], environmental degradation in coastal areas in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo costed the equivalent of $ 3.8 billion, representing 5.3% of the GDP of these four countries, in 2017

. Experts from the West Africa Coastal Areas Management Program (WACA), a project covering six countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Sao Tome-and-Principe, Senegal and Togo) told SciDev.Net in Abidjan, commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, following a dialogue with the private sector on the environmental threat that this threat “is becoming more and more acute”.

“Science and technology are indispensable. (…) In most coastal countries, the environmental scourge manifests through the destruction, by waters, of several goods, including houses, whereas, according to the World Bank, coastal areas are home to 42% of the economic activities in these countries and at least one third of their populations. Think tank. Ochou Abé Delfin, lecturer at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny University of Abidjan, known for his work on and commitment for climate change control, is of the view that marine erosion is most often at the root of a range of complications, such as “geomorphological, geological, climatic and meteorological problems”.

A think tank and experience sharing group has already been set up under program financed by the World Bank in the amount of $ 225 million. Membership includes researchers from the relevant countries with backgrounds in several areas, such as geography, geology, environmental sciences and oceanography. The role of the think tank and experience sharing group is to “identify eminent persons in order to ensure that all the skills are available within a formal framework to work together”, said Eric M’moi Valère Djagoua from the Abidjan University Centre for research and application in remote sensing (CURAT).

Mr. Djagoua believes that universities in the sub-region will have a crucial role to play in this regard. For that matter, the University of Cape Coast, Ghana was chosen as a centre of excellence in Africa for WACA, which has just reached an agreement with the managers of this University. “They [experts] will gather the know-how and knowledge available in the region and put together training programmes for engaging youth and future engineers and other managers from the sub-region”, advised Peter Kristensen, environmental and natural resources officer at the World Bank.

“The only thing we lack is coastal engineering to build hard and soft structures to protect the coastline depending on the circumstances prevailing” observed Ochou Abé Delfin, who called for the search for “multifaceted solutions” to address the scourge. Research on the private sector. For scientists, research should also address in particular the private’s action in the coastal area, given that the private sector carries out a significant amount of activities that weaken the coastline and exacerbate the issue of coastal erosion. Seen from a different angle, however, private operators’ activities are also threatened by the environmental scourge.