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GRAND LAHOU, Côte d’Ivoire, 13 June 2014 - The Abidjan Convention joined the Ivorian Ministry of Environment Friday in celebrating World Environment and Ocean Days by donating cleaning and other material to three needy primary schools in the coastal town of Grand Lahou.

“This is a symbolic contribution to encourage to schoolchildren to clean their environment,” Patricia Meledje, the Abidjan Convention programme assistant, said when handing over the material.


Photo credit: Abidjan Convention Secretariat/Emeka Okoye
Abidjan Convention Programme Assistant Patricia Meledje presents Secretariat’s contribution to selectesd schools in Grand Lahou. To her left is Georges Kouadio, director general of the Ministry of Environment.

The donated wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, hoes, garbage and watering cans, tee-shirts, caps and umbrellas were handed to the local organizers at the ceremony in the town marking World Ocean Day. The items were for distribution to Arsene Assouan Usher High School, primary schools Groupe Scolaire Lahou 2 and Lahou Kpanda primary schools.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the world environment and ocean days are commemorate simultaneously due to the proximity of dates and for greater public impact. As with 2013, “Together we have the power to protect the ocean” was this year’s theme for the event marked worldwide on 8 June. World Environment Day is celebrated 5 June and, this year, under the theme “Raise you voice and not the level of the sea.”

This year’s celebrations here were deferred due to the government’s conflicting schedule.Dignitaries at this event included Abidjan Convention Regional Coordinator Abou Bamba; United Nations Industrial Development Organization representative Doris Hribernigg; other ranking officials of the Ministry of Environment; National Assembly member and Mayor of for Grand Lahou Jean Djaya; as well as traditional chiefs of Grand Lahou’s environ.

At the ceremony, held on the premises of Town Hall, Environment Minister Remi Allah Kouadio, told some 500 attendees that Grand Lahou had been chosen for this year’s commemoration because it exemplified of the gravity of the country’s coastal erosion. He said the public needed to be made aware of the problem, which was the government was determined to tackle.

 


Photo credit: Abidjan Convention Secretariat/Emeka Okoye
Environment Minister Remi Allah Kouadio.

“Government’s priority is to open the mouth of the Sassandra River in Grand Bassam, which will reduce the progression of the Atlantic Ocean that is causing coastal erosion,” he said.

In addition, he added, a ministerial committee had been formed to proffer solutions to the erosion menace; demarcate areas unsuitable for human settlement along the country’s entire cost; and mount apublic awareness campaign on the issue. He presented a grant of 2 million francs CFA (about USD4,130) to the town of Grand Lahou although, he said the government wanted the residents to move to a new location farther inland.

Côte d’Ivoire’s coastal erosion hotspots are the port town of San Pedro, Grand Lahou, Bassam and Assinie, where government action is being focused. Sand mining is a major contributor to the menace. Beach sand is mined in San Pedro and many countries along the West African coast to make blocks and other uses. in home construction.


Photo credit: Abidjan Convention Secretariat/Emeka Okoye
Building destroyed by ocean’s assault on Lahou Kpanda

“We have decided to stop sand mining in San Pedro,” Allah Kouadio said, referring to one of the measures being taken to prevent erosion around the country’s second largest port.

 

 

 

 

 

Azagny National Park

  • The 19,400 hectare Azagny National Park hosts elephants (the national symbol), crocodiles, buffalo, four turtle species, birds and various fish. At the centre, the park is a swampy maze of mangrove forests and raphia.
  • Azagny was declared a national park on 4 April 1981 and classified as a Ramsar site on 27 February 1996.

The Bandama River

  • Length is 1,050 km, covering 97,500 km2.
  • Fish species present are labeo, tilapia, catfish, and hippopotamous. Artisanal fishing is practiced. .

The Inhabitants

  • Residents of the region are the Avikam and the Adjoukrou. They are part of the Akan group. Like other coastal regions in this country, they are engaged in fishing and palm oil production.

Lahou Kpanda, just off Grand Lahou, typifies the worst effects of coastal erosion in Côte d’Ivoire. This once bustling island that housed trading houses and private homes of Dutch, British and French colonial merchants is now a narrow, barren sandbar between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bandama Lagoon connecting it to Grand Lahou. The once free-flowing channel between this town and the sandbar where Lahou Kpanda once stood, is narrowing because the natural flow of sea water has been blocked, and its now diverted waters is eroding the sandbar even more.

“The Government should dredge the point where sea water enters the lagoon and stabilize it, then place granite blocks for water to flow as before,” said Antoine Diecket, professor of geographical planning at the Félix Houphouët Boigny University in Abidjan.

Abidjan Convention Regional Coordinator Abou Bamba, addressing an audience at a ceremony on Lahou Kpanda as part of the local World Ocean Day programme told the audience that opportunities abound, despite Grand-Lahou’s challenges, if the public willed development.

He said the United Nations could help by drawing up a proposal for an integrated management of the coastal resources, lagoon, the Bandama River, fisheries, the Azagny National Park, which could lead to economic growth, poverty reduction and wealth creation in the city and the surrounding areas faced with coastal erosion.


Photo credit: Abidjan Convention Secretariat/Emeka Okoye
Bandama Lagoon

“Grand Lahou should thus be the pilot town for sustainable development in coastal cities of Côte d’Ivoire,” he said.

Additionally, he said, a transboundary project concerning Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana could be undertaken, through the Global Environmental Facility, to develop and make use of the lagoon linking both countries.