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Rising sea level threat to Coast Change in climate a threat to businesses in Coast, forum told

Beach hotels, roads and homes in Mombasa and Lamu counties are at risk of being destroyed due to the rise in the sea level caused by climate change.

By extension, the Sh13 billion Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project might also be at risk.

Vivian Aketch paired with Sharon Dajije from Uganda dives to save a spike during a past Mombasa International Beach Volleyball at the Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Club in Ukunda. Beach hotels, roads and homes in Mombasa and Lamu counties are at risk of being destroyed due to the rise in the sea level caused by climate change.

Vivian Aketch paired with Sharon Dajije from Uganda dives to save a spike during a past Mombasa International Beach Volleyball at the Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Club in Ukunda. Beach hotels, roads and homes in Mombasa and Lamu counties are at risk of being destroyed due to the rise in the sea level caused by climate change.

Experts have also warned that Lamu — a Unesco heritage site and a tourist attraction that is also home to the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa — might not exist by the end of the century.

This is an issue discussed in a scientific paper titled “Rethinking Coastal Design and Planning: Integrated Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessments, Case of Mombasa and Lamu Islands” by Valentine Ochanda of Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ms Ochanda recommends a “rethinking of coastal design and planning, with regards to sea level rise.”

She warned that in the event of sea storms, coastal inhabitants will be exposed to severe flooding.

Mombasa has, in recent months experienced flooding, after prolonged rains, which has led to deaths and displacement of at least 750 families. Businesses were also affected.

DEAL WITH TSUNAMIS

Yesterday, the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) asked the government to set up marine disaster teams in the region.

KAHC Coast Vice-Chairman Silas Kiti agreed with the expert’s argument that developing countries lacked the capacity to deal with disasters such as tsunamis.

He also said counties in the Coast lacked the capacity to adequately respond to maritime disasters.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Global Mean Sea Level has risen by 10 to 20 centimetres. However, the annual rise over the past 20 years has been 3.2 millimetres per year. This is roughly twice the average speed of the earlier 80 years.

This has been brought on due to the burning of fossil fuels and human activities that have released large amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, in turn increasing the atmospheric heat.

The rise in sea levels is an issue that scientists are grappling with at the ongoing scientific conference on ‘Our Common Future Under Climate Change’ at the Unesco headquarters in Paris, France. The conference ends today.

According to Mr Maarten Van Aalst of the Red Cross /Red Crescent Climate Centre, who was discussing how to cope with climate disasters, coastal cities — especially those in the developing world — are ill prepared for the impact of rising sea levels.

These are some of the climate change concerns that the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded with countries to address urgently.

The secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, Mr Michel Jarraud, said “the cost of inaction is high when it comes to climate change.”

He also lamented that the commitments made by various countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were not enough.

Some Pacific island states are on the verge of sinking due to rising sea levels.

Residents of the Tuvalu Islands (close to Fiji and Australia) are said to be “climate refugees” because of the rise in sea level that has seen salt water intrude into their clean water.

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