n Jamba : Journal of Disaster Risk Studies -

Coastal erosion management in Accra : combining local knowledge and empirical research

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1996-1421
  • E-ISSN: 2072-845X



Coastal erosion along the Accra coast has become a chronic phenomenon that threatens both life and property. The issue has assumed a centre stage of national debate in recent times because of its impact on the coastal communities. Lack of reliable geospatial data hinders effective scientific investigations into the changing trends in the shoreline position. However, knowledge about coastal erosion, by the local people, and how far the shoreline has migrated inland over time is high in the coastal communities in Accra. This opens a new chapter in coastal erosion research to include local knowledge of the local settlers in developing sustainable coastal management. This article adopted a scientific approach to estimate rate of erosion and tested the results against perceived erosion trend by the local settlers. The study used a 1974 digital topographic map and 1996 aerial photographs. The end point rate statistical method in DSAS was used to compute the rates of change. The short-term rate of change for the 22-year period under study was estimated as -0.91 m/annum ± 0.49 m/annum. It was revealed that about 79% of the shoreline is eroding, while the remaining 21% is either stabilised or accreting. It emerged, from semi-structured interviews with inhabitants in the Accra coastal communities, that an average of about 30 m of coastal lands are perceived to have been lost to erosion for a period of about 20 years. This translates to a historic rate of change of about 1.5 m/year, which corroborates the results of the scientific study. Again this study has established that the local knowledge of the inhabitants, about coastal erosion, can serve as reliable information under scarcity of scientific data for coastal erosion analyses in developing countries.

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