Almost 4,000 people displaced by tidal surge in Ghana
Published: Nov 11, 2021 05:43 PM
Photo shows raw plantains for sale in a market in Accra, capital of Ghana, on April 27, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

Photo shows raw plantains for sale in a market in Accra, capital of Ghana, on April 27, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

Almost 4,000 people on Ghana's coast were still displaced on Wednesday after a weekend tidal surge swept through more than 500 houses in the Volta region.

Sea-level rise is a growing worry in West Africa, and in Ghana, many have already been forced to abandon homes and livelihoods. 

"We had tidal waves Sunday at dawn," George Ayisi, spokesperson for Ghana's National Disaster Management Organisation, told AFP Wednesday.

"In Keta district, we have 1,557 individuals displaced and 239 houses affected. In Anloga district, we have 1,394 displaced and 134 houses affected, and in Ketu South we have 1,027 displaced and 149 houses affected."

Some houses were completely destroyed and at least one school and a cemetery were also affected, he added.

"This is the third tidal wave this year, but it's the heaviest... it's getting worrying, look at the numbers, it affected a lot of people," said Ayisi.

For him, "sea levels are rising so it's definitely linked to climate change."

Ghana has a shoreline stretching some 550 kilometers with a quarter of the country's population living by the sea.

A local official in Keta, Emmanuel Gemegah, told AFP that assistance for those displaced was ongoing.

"The government has provided things like food, clothes, soap and mosquito nets," he said. 

Ghana has tried to mitigate the impact of sea level rise with the construction of a "sea defense project" - boulders that are piled on top of each other in the sea.

The first phase of the Blekusu Coastal Protection Project, covering 4.3 kilometers of Ghana's southern coast, was completed in 2019.

Ghana's Minister for Works and Housing Francis Asenso Boakye told reporters on Monday that the government will "soon commence works" on the second phase to cover a minimum of eight kilometers. 

"I think it's what can be done now," said Gemegah.

Sunday's tidal waves are "linked to climate change," he said. "We have never experienced this in this magnitude in many years."

Vulnerable people such as children and elderly residents who were affected by the latest wave are for now staying in schools, community centers and churches in safer areas, said Gemegah, but others are already starting to return to the coast.