Encroaching waters from the Atlantic Ocean have destroyed several hundred homes and buildings along parts of Cameroon’s 400-kilometer coast on the Atlantic Ocean. Officials in the central African state have temporarily suspended fishing and tourism in the coastal town of Kribi because of the damage. Affected civilians are begging for help from the government.
Waves pound crumbling walls, seaside shops and abandoned fishing boats in Kribi, a tourist and commercial city along Cameroon’s Atlantic coast.
Remnants of buildings, especially fishermen’s homes, are still very visible, though civilians say some buildings were completely swept away by waves this week.
Tina Richard, a 70-year old tourist guide, says he lost his property because of the encroaching water.
He says he was helpless on Tuesday when high waves swept through and destroyed coastal villages, plantations, hotels and residential areas including parts of his house.
This is not the first time ocean waters have swept across Kribi. But Tina said the current destruction is more devastating than the floods in 1977, 2003 and 2013.
Nouhou Bello, the highest Cameroon government official in Kribi district, says the government is trying to limit the destruction and the danger to town residents.
Nouhou says he has prohibited the construction of buildings within 200 meters from the ocean and ordered the police to stop tourists and their host community members from swimming in the Atlantic ocean until further notice. He says there is a high risk of civilians drowning in ocean waves which are increasing in volume, power and speed and threatening to destroy more houses, villages, plantations and fishing communities.
Kribi is home to 70,000 civilians and is one of the most popular seaside resorts in central Africa. About 60,000 tourists, a majority of them Europeans, Americans and Asians, visit Kribi each year, according to the government of the central African state.
Nouhou said economic activity has nosedived because of the encroaching ocean waters that also killed goats and devastated poultry farms.
Several hundred fish sellers from Cameroon’s economic hub Douala and the capital Yaounde who visit Kribi every day say they have not been able to get enough supplies since high waves chased fishing boats from the ocean this week.
Cameroon government officials say scores of scared tourists fled from Kribi and dozens who were expected this week are scared to visit the seaside resort.
The fishers and farmers who constitute a majority of the Kribi’s population say they are poor and hungry and expect immediate government support.
Nouhou did not say if the government is planning to give assistance to civilians affected by the ocean waters.
Cameron’s environment ministry blames global warming and rising sea levels for the encroaching of ocean water into its coastal lands.
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, reports that the ongoing rise in sea levels is potentially catastrophic for an economic bloc whose 30 percent of civilians live along the coastline.
CEMAC is a six member state economic bloc that groups Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.
Cameroon’s ministry of the economy says it is looking for funds to construct a 100-kilometer long coastal dike to stop erosion and reduce floods. The government has neither disclosed how much it needs nor when the construction is expected to begin.