Round-the-clock sand-mining on beaches within a few kilometers of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown is having a devastating effect on the coastline, destroying property, and damaging the area’s hopes of a tourism revival.
Kolleh Bangura, the director of Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is concerned about the rate of sand-removal from the beaches. “It is getting worse,” he told IRIN, explaining that until sand-mining began the rate of coastal erosion was around one meter per year. “Now it is up to six meters [in certain places].”
“When they take sand from one part of the beach it upsets the balance, and triggers a direct hit on the coast,” he said.
In the village of Lakka whole stretches of coastline are littered with the remains of buildings whose foundations have been washed from underneath them as a result of sand-mining. Many coastal residents can only watch as the coastline draws ever-nearer to their homes.
Balu Kargbo lives just a few feet away from a cliff of loose sand at the edge of Hamilton Beach, 8 km from Freetown. She is very concerned about the threat to her home but, like her neighbors, she cannot afford to move. “The beach is getting shorter all the time,” she says.
Further down the beach an orphanage run by the NGO OrphFund is being forced to relocate. “We went away for a month in May 2011,” said Kat Cacavas, a volunteer worker at the orphanage, “and when we got back our fence had disappeared.”
Since then, the cliff has receded another five meters. If the erosion continues at the same rate, the building is unlikely to last more than two years.
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
Sand-mining threatens homes and livelihoods in Sierra Leone