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Climate Change in Ghana Victims of Climate Change

Victims of Climate Change: Scenes From Southeast Ghana

Victims of climate change are already here but shunned, left to fight their own battles. The future of towns and villages in southeast Ghana hangs in the balance in a time of climate crisis. A depressing reminder of how the rest of us should start to ready ourselves for the oncoming climate chaos in the years ahead.

January 18, 2022

Photo above: An illustration shows the impact of a strip of sandbar blockage on fisheries at Agbledomi, Southeast Ghana. Copyright © Muntaka Chasant

Victims of climate change are already here but shunned, left to fight their own battles. The future of towns and villages in southeast Ghana hangs in the balance in a time of climate crisis. A depressing reminder of how the rest of us should start to ready ourselves for the oncoming climate chaos in the years ahead.

A strip of sandbar caused by a huge storm that swallowed villages and communities in the southeast of Ghana blocks access to the Atlantic Ocean and Volta River estuary. A combination of flooding, rising seas, and storm surges in early November 2021 battered and ripped through the landscape, burying the only beachfront left near the disappeared Fuveme, a fishing village that now only exists in memories.

The sandbar came up in the channel connecting Anyanui and Ada Foah, an important trading route for thousands of people. This now threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people who rely on the inlet and wetland fisheries as sources of jobs and food.

The locals have linked the blockage to crab and fish die-offs in the connected wetlands.

With no help coming from the Ghana Government after months, roughly around 200 desperate rural men from different communities came together on January 13, 2022, to dig with shovels and their bare hands in an attempt to create a canal through a swamp for the blocked water to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

Areas affected include Anyanui, Agbledomi, and Djita to Anloga.

What Happened?

Above is what appears to be a boring bird’s eye view of me on land. However, this stretch of land — a strip of sandbar — cannot be found on the map. Not on Google Earth.

The coordinates from the Exchangeable Image File of the image below — clearly visible — are: 5° 46′ 29.88″ N, 0° 41′ 53.208″ E

Let’s work out the coordinates to see where Google Earth lands me.

According to Google Earth, I was right in the middle of a channel.

That’s the tidal channel that connects Anyanui and Ada Foah. However, Google Earth is flat wrong. The channel is now completely blocked — by a strip of sandbar.

In contrast, I have pinned my real location on January 13, 2022, in the two aerial images below:

Below are some zoom outs of Google Earth rendering of the coordinates.

Note: The shoreline in the Google Earth screenshots — captured on January 17, 2022 — appears crooked. I will update this post whenever I see a refresh of these coordinates.

Until around mid-2021, and worsened by the early November 2021 coastal flooding, the Google Earth rendering of this channel was somehow accurate, the locals told me.

With the channel blocked, communities and wetlands that rely on the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tides are now under significant stress. 

Dead crabs and fish are now starting to float in the water.

Communities from Anyanui to Anloga and beyond rely on this water system as a source of jobs and food. Blocked, fisheries around the region are collapsing.

Crabs and Fish Die-offs Kilometers Away

To see the impact of this blockage, I visited a small section of Agbledomi — some 10km away. 

Here, fishermen showed me dead crabs and fish that were floating on the surface of the water. Fishermen around Agbledomi later participated in the communal labour down the coast.

Climate Change Victims: Rural Frontline Communities Shunned, Left to Fight Their Own Battles

So far, no help has come from anywhere — not from the Ghana Government.

Anguishing, communities stretching more than 10km sent men to dig with shovels and their bare hands in an attempt to create a temporary canal for the blocked water to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. 

These desperate men want their lives back — so badly that the 68-year-old Keki Hagba below left his family to come and dig through the swamp. 

“I don’t remember us having to go through something like this in my lifetime,” distressed Keki Hagba, 68, said. “At my age, I wouldn’t be here if I had any choice. The blockage is literally choking us. No one will help us. Why, who have we wronged?”

It was agonizing and heart-wrenching, yet one of the most persevering scenes I have seen in the course of my coverage of communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.

I hope you remember these men when you think of the victims of climate change. 

Copyright © 2022 Muntaka Chasant

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