An increasing vulnerability to the risk of beach erosion
Recent decades have seen significant human migration to the coast, which has led to rapid and extensive urban development. Today, 30% of Ivory Coast’s population lives by the sea (Anoh & Pottier, 2008). Occupation and use of coastal spaces has not always taken the fragile nature of these environments and the associated risks into consideration. Over the years, major economic investment (ports, industrial estates, etc.) and population densification have exacerbated vulnerability to the risks of erosion. This vulnerability has been embedded in collective memory by erosion-related disasters in 1984, 1986, 2007 and 2011.
The poor are most vulnerable and the tourist industry severely affected
In Port-Bouët, in August 2007, some 30 houses were destroyed, resulting in around 100 victims and several million West African CFA francs of material damage. The majority of people affected lived in severely deprived circumstances and lost everything when their houses were swept away. In August 2011, surges washed some of the road and tourist infrastructure in Grand-Bassam and Assinie into the sea. The financial impact in Grand-Bassam came to a total of 250 million francs (€380,000) for direct damage and 150 million francs (€230,000) for loss of business, with 2000 jobs put at risk. In both cases the extent of the damage could be explained by dense and uncontrolled occupancy of the sea front and back shore.
Climate change and rising sea levels
Estimates published by the IPCC (AR5) point to a probable rise in sea levels of 52 to 98cm by 2100. When combined with the effects of storms and heavy swells, this increase is likely to intensify coastal hazards, particularly in relation to erosion in Ivory Coast.