Blog | 2020-01-10
WACA Marketplace: States, people and the private sector working together to protect our coasts
Coastal erosion must be fought and African countries must work together.
"Coastal erosion must be fought in a comprehensive manner and African countries must work together with the help of the private sector to preserve their coastlines".
These words spoken by Coralie Gevers, World Bank Operations Director for Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Guinea at the opening of #WACAMarketplace, perfectly illustrate the spirit in which this meeting was held in Abidjan last November.
The objective of this "project market place", organized within the framework of the West African Coastal Areas Management Programme (WACA), an initiative for coastal resilience and the fight against marine pollution supported by the World Bank, is to enable each country concerned (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, and Togo) to pitch its projects to investors and private sector actors, in order to obtain the technical or financial support necessary for their realization.
Coming each from a West African coastal country, including three beneficiaries of the WACA programme (Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo) and one in the pipeline (Nigeria), we were invited to attend this event.
For the four young bloggers that we are, winners of the Blog4Dev competition and committed to the transformation of the continent, this experience allowed us to dive into the range of actions declined by the WACA program to preserve the West African coasts: giving voice to the populations exposed to coastal erosion and inviting them to the discussion table, assisting countries in the formulation of their projects, by providing them with technical know-how and helping them in mobilizing funds from partners. The countries' projects were many and varied, from flood control in four cities in southern Benin, pollution and waste control in the capital of Togo, restoration of coastal ecosystems in northern and southern Mauritania, to road rehabilitation projects in Sao Tome.
We were also able to visit the field and realize the extent of the damage already caused by coastal erosion and the urgency to stop it. We put on our shoes and walked firmly through the mud and mud, to see up close the role played by the mangrove as a vegetal shield of our coasts. It is to look, up close, very close, at the ravages of the ocean on the buildings, the buildings eaten away with appetite by the voracious waves, which leave behind them only salt and desolation, entire landscapes devastated by the silent catastrophe, only a short distance from the Capital.
We want to say again and again that the challenges are great and the stakes are high! To get an idea, let's look at the frightening, even icy, figures linked to coastal erosion: according to the World Bank, the cost of environmental degradation at the regional level would be around 3.8 billion dollars, or 5.3% of the GDP of Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal and Togo combined in 2017. And 60% of this degradation comes from floods and erosion! In addition, they cause more than 13,000 deaths a year, mainly due to water and air pollution and floods.
Faced with such figures, one is tempted to ask why on earth do we not hear more about this phenomenon!? Did you know that the West African coastline is home to almost a third of the region's population and generates 56% of its wealth?
Let us also remember that behind all these figures lie millions of broken lives: it is the suffering of mothers who can no longer provide for their children; it is whole generations of people who are destitute when they realize that the sea has taken over the cemetery where their forefathers were buried; when they no longer recognize their former world, of which only precious and fragile memories remain in their minds.
That is why we must communicate more, share more, involve as many people as possible, especially the younger generations, who have a duty to engage in this struggle, for their land, for their country and for their future.