Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Liberians face rising flood threat

Rob Young in the BBC World Service: Liberia on Africa's west coast is in desperate need of help as it suffers from the effects of climate change. The country, which has been devastated by years of civil war, is now facing a second major threat - the ocean.

The United Nations Development Programme say the changing climate means the sea level is rising and the rainy season is getting longer. This has led to a rapidly eroding coastline and more instances of flooding.

…"We have to send out an SOS call to the international community that Liberia is in dire need of their support," says Carlton Miller, a senior government minister. "We are facing an imminent threat, this is not something we can do on our own."

…The majority of Liberia's population live in coastal cities and what is left of its infrastructure is also near the ocean. "Some areas are so low compared to sea level that a rising tide will see some inundation of low-lying areas," says David Wiles, assistant professor of geography at the University of Liberia.

…The exact rate of coastal erosion is unclear because historical records were destroyed during the civil war. But the government estimates that in one coastal city, Buchanan, the sea has moved 250 metres in almost 40 years….

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