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Regional News of Monday, 25 September 2017

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Survival of Shama Anlo Beach community threatened

The Anlo Beach Community near Shama needs to be relocated as soon as possible to save lives of the over 3,000 people within the fishing community and also protect the livelihoods of the people.

The community is seriously being threatened by tidal waves with the ocean continually flooding the community, destroying buildings, schools, mangroves, coconut vegetation, and the beautiful sandy beach as well.

A tour by journalists to the Anlo Beach revealed that most homes were gone, and a number of peoples’ livelihoods destroyed, with some of the infrastructure having fallen and protective structures like coconut trees, sand bars, and groins, all gone with the sea rising and pushing the community away from the shore.

During the tour of the Beach, it was observed that River Prah, which initially was not entering the sea at the beach, had now overflowed its banks and was flowing into the sea, creating artificial estuary.

The water current also continues to eat the remaining sand bar that is left to protect the land from the sea.
“The sea is invading so fast into the community and clearly sweeping the community away, and this is what will require some forms of adaptation.

“So right now they are under threat seriously from the ocean and from the river. They are in between two water bodies,” Professor John Blay, a professor of Zoology, with specialised area in Fisheries Science and Integrated Coastal Management of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) who led the journalists to tour the Anlo Beach community said.

The journalists toured the Anlo Beach as part of a training workshop held for media personnel by the Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) of the UCC in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The training dubbed, “short course on climate change adaptation for the media personnel” had the objective to build capacity relevant to the media to enable them better mainstream climate change considerations into their work.

The training also falls under the five-year USAID/UCC Fisheries and Coastal Management Capacity Building Support Project.

Prof Blay described the situation at the Anlo Beach as very dire; saying that there were no doubt the people should relocate from the area to ensure their survival.

“There are no adaptive situations here, they just have to move to a higher ground and that is what will save them and their livelihoods.

“I will say they should be relocated immediately, but since it cannot be an immediate thing because of the stuff they have to move, let’s give them about six months. Within six months I believe they should go.

“Because the entire situation we have observed had taken from April to September -six month to get to this state. And assuming that this phenomenon should continue again within the next six months, there will be no community left,” he explained to the GNA.

“So they should be moving from now. The situation is serious, if they should move now it would be in their own best interest.

“This therefore calls for immediate action, which is, just relocating and fortunately they have been given a place to move to uphill where their school is presently located”, Prof Blay said.

He said the UCC which does lots of fisheries and integrated coastal management work, had been visiting the Anlo Beach quite often.

He said during the process the UCC personnel got to realize that the community was so exposed to the hazards of tidal waves, a critical component of climate change effect.

Prof Blay noted that years back the people were advised to move out from that place but they reluctantly refused to move because of their livelihoods, but now that they have seen the situation they needed to move.

“They must first of all live in order to enjoy the resource,” he indicated.

Mr Noble Dogbatsey, Secretary to the Council of Elders of Anlo Beach, told the GNA in an interview that the Beach community had been in existence since the 1903s when the first settler settled within the community.

He narrated that around the 1950s, the sea was very far from the land where they were settling while the beach was also very distant, but with time the sea had gradually eroded the sand and flooded the community with higher intensity as the climate kept changing.

He said in the 1996, there was a very severe flooding of the community by tidal waves which prompted the then Omahene of Shama Traditional Council to allocate an upland site for them to relocate.

He said the elders of the town were still renegotiating with the current Shama Council and the owners of the land, and that immediately the negotiations was over, they would move to the new site.

Mr Dogbatsey said more than 3,000 people mainly fisher folks and farmers currently live in the Anlo Beach community.

“Actually we are ever ready to relocate to the new site but come to the beach to do our fishing business here”.

He appealed to government not to leave the Anlo beach to the mercy of the sea even when the people moved out of the place, but to do all it could “to protect this most beautiful beach in the Western Region”.

Mr John Kennedy Attipoe, an inland fisherman and a Linguist to the Anlo Beach Chief, in an interview with the GNA expressed fear over the current situation and how quickly the community was being taken over by both sea and the Prah River.

He said there was continuous sand winning activities in large quantities, from the Shama beach for government projects like the roads and the Stadia which also affected the Anlo Beach.

He said the people were being moved out of the community by the government and the Paramount Chief of Shama, to a higher ground called “Sokplotodze”, which would need some infrastructural amenities.

He said the Assembly had also promised to clear the site for the people anytime they were ready to move to the site.

Mr Attipoe appealed to government to come to the aid of the community members by assisting them with two-room housing unit per household and allow the people to pay in instalment.