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Saturday, January 31, 2015
- Pierre Zambo is a hotel manager in Kribi, a sea resort town in Cameroon’s South Region. In the past his hotel would have “more than 100 tourists each week. But today if I manage to have 50 people registered into my hotel weekly, then it’s good business.”
Located in the gulf of Guinea, Kribi is a town with an estimated population of about 50,000 whose livelihoods depend on farming, fishing and tourism.
However, rising sea levels and increased tides have eroded most of the once-sandy beach along Kribi. Now beaches are reduced to narrow muddy paths. And local hotels, bars and restaurants are feeling the impact of this erosion directly in their pockets as tourists reduce in numbers.
“Tourists come and are less interested in our beaches and prefer spending time in the forest attractions,” Zambo tells IPS.
Emmanuel Founga, a botanist, owns a hotel on Kribi’s coast.
“The Kribi coastline has eroded from about 50 to 100 metres since 1990. It is evident from the trees that are uprooted by waves today but were found inland some years ago,” Founga tells IPS.
He says the local population is losing an important source of livelihood as the number of tourists reduce, local restaurants and bars are beginning to close down.
“High degradation of the coast has a big implication on tourism in this region; sea level rise has caused not only erosion but has polluted the coast. Much waste from the Atlantic Ocean is swept by the sea to these beaches. The waves in return cause erosion of the banks, leaving the beaches muddy and filthy,” Founga explains.
“Climate change is having a devastating impact in Cameroon and the coast of Kribi is a perfect example of the problem of rising sea levels and the enormous impact on safety and livelihood of the population,” Tomothé Kagombet, the focal point person for the Kyoto Protocol at the Ministry of Environment Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, tells IPS.
Climate change is not only a coastal problem but has had widespread impact on this Central African nation. Across the country there are reports of limited and erratic rainfall, pests and plant diseases, erosion, high temperatures, droughts and floods.
Cameroon’s economy relies heavily on climate-sensitive sectors, mainly agriculture, energy and forestry — with 70 percent of the population depending directly on agriculture.
While Cameroon’s Ministry of Tourism is currently channeling funds from a United Nations World Tourism Organisation project called ST-EP or Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty to climate change projects along the coast, it is not enough.
Through ST-EP, various projects are being implemented in Kribi beach and its forests and along other coastal areas such as Douala and Limbe to help people adapt to the changing climate and develop their sites for tourism.
“Due the problem of a degrading coast, we are encouraging locals to also develop other touristic sites such as the forest with Baka pigmies and their rich culture, which recently has been a huge attraction. We have given funding for them to restore and manage beaches from Kribi to Limbe and other sites,” Muhamadu Kombi, director of tourist sites in the Ministry of Tourism, tells IPS.
However, this is but one project. The concrete implementation of nationwide climate change adaptation strategies are lagging due to the absence of funding.
The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PENACC) provides strategies and actions to mitigate the effect of climate change, but Kagombet points out that Cameroon does not benefit from any funding from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) negotiations.
“But one of the main problems facing Cameroon and other developing nations is the problems of implementation. We depend on funding from developed nations to better implement this elaborated adaptation plan of action.
“In this document [PENACC], Cameroon’s vulnerability is considered by sector and adaptation actions are formulated following these specificities. With the coastal ecosystem, for example, there is a need for both mechanical [building of dikes] and biological [planting of mangrove trees] means of adaptation,” Kagombet says.
An aspect of Cameroon’s planned action is the introduction of climate change as a subject in schools, with proposed syllabuses already available. The plan of action also prioritises actions in the industrial sector, waste management and transport sectors.
“It is a package with every requirement; capacity, technology and other resources needed to adapt and mitigate climate change effects,” Kagombet says.
While Cameroon plans to implement and carry out Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects, operational dawdling could hinge on the country’s commitments to mitigate climate change.
Meanwhile, those who have not benefited from adaptation projects in Kribi find that not only their livelihoods are threatened, but that they are constantly paying out of their own pockets to adapt to a changing climate.
“These high tides has brought many problems. I have to make sand bags every August to October when the sea is very high to avoid further erosion of land and the danger of my walls collapsing,” Zambo says.