Lahou Kpanda, a small town in Ivory coast is suffering from coastal erosion. It is located 150 kilometres from the capital, Abidjan.
Here, Inhabitants live with the pain of watching their ancestors drift out to sea due to coastal erosion.
Climate change, rise in sea-level and the disappearance of mangroves have displaced thousands of people over the past 30 years.
The old city of Grand Lahou can not be on the UNESCO natural heritage list, it doesn't exist any more.
“Today we live in anguish. What will happen tomorrow if no one comes to the help of the village? We will disappear. But today it is our dead who are leaving. You know, in Africa, our parents, our ancestors are very important to us and to see them scattered in the sea is heartbreaking and every day that God brings to us we are haunted”, Daniel Loha, a village elder said.
Coastal erosion is dramatically eroding the West African coast, but in Grand Lahou, it has been worsened by the presence of a hydroelectric dam built in the early 1970s, some 250 km to the north. This has deprived the Bandama River of some of its power and ability to withstand the ocean.
Since then, the earth has receded by an average of 1 to 2 metres a year and a loss of 10 metres in just 2 days in 2011. This dilapidated prison building, for example, began to sink into the sea at the beginning of the year.
Professor Jacques Abe heads the Oceanographic research centre.
“The old city of Grand Lahou can not be on the UNESCO natural heritage list, it doesn’t exist any more. At the time they rang the alarm to see what could be done with that part (of the city), but all these historical buildings are gone now”, he said.
Today, a plan to combat the erosion is being considered with the construction of a sea defence. In November 2018, a total of €24 million was released to Ivory Coast as a loan from the World Bank.
“What you need to do in the Grand Lahou is to plug the breach, at the level of the cemetery, open up in front of Bandama (river) so that the water can then flow there and put things in place dams so the water does not snake around, that the water instead go straight, and straight into the sea. That is what needs to be done. That’s all. Its feasible. Technically it is feasible. It is just a question of costs”, said Dr. Diekete Moise Antoine at the Institute of Tropical Geography, University of Abidjan.
The city of Grand-Lahou is disappearing and many villagers are concerned.
Some do not want to abandon the land of their ancestors. Others want to leave because the lagoon is increasingly silting up.