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Image credit: Solomon Eko

Solomon Eko: Rising sea levels

Solomon Eko: Rising sea levels

How climate change threatens a community

Image above: A man watches the rising sea

The community around Alpha Beach, Lekki, in Lagos, Nigeria, live with the constant threat of rising seas.

Retired government worker, 71-year-old Reuben Olu-Bastus, stands with Jonathan Olakunle outside the hut Reuben has just rebuilt following a destructive storm.

“There should be a law preventing people from building too close to the ocean,” says Jonathan Olakunle, who works for the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Barbara Abike Epperson Foundation. “There should be an awareness campaign about the danger of coastal communities due to the effect of climate change.”

A fence being erected as a sea defence

After the last surge, developers brought concrete granite blocks to erect a barrier to prevent further encroaching of sea water. Reuben says that after the fence is erected, the developers will chase him away, exposing him more to the dangers of the sea.

A church only a few metres from the sea

Amid the climate change challenges of rising sea levels, people have built a church only a few metres from the sea in the belief that God will protect them from the encroaching waters.

A bar that has been destroyed by rising seas

This popular bar used to attract many fun-seekers to Alfa beach. It now lies in ruins. Rising sea levels have affected the local economy as many youths are now jobless and crime rate has increased.

The former police station on Alpha beach, Lekki

The former police station, serving the beach community of Marwa in Lekki, is now occupied by Mohammed, a Cameroonian, and his two sons. The property is still under threat from the encroaching ocean, but has been entrusted to Mohammed’s care. He lives there as a local watchman, to protect it from hoodlums and hooligans within the community, and because he has no other shelter.

Former primary health centre on Alfa beach

This building used to be a primary health centre serving the Okun Alfa Community. It was damaged by an intensive ocean surge that left the community without a health facility and health workers jobless.

House with stairs washed along the beach

Damage from rising sea levels is often sudden and quick. The stairs of this house were still attached to the structure of the building the day before this photograph was taken.

A house that's been swallowed by sand

This house in the Alfa beach community has been completely swallowed up by sand washed ashore by rising sea.

A house on Alfa beach, with washing in windows

This house has stood the test of time, but the occupants only come home occasionally due to the fear of the constantly rising sea.

A girl enjoying the serenity of the part of Alfa beach less affected. She stands on the only part of the beach that is protected from rising sea levels – by a grey elevated barrier designed to stop the sea from penetrating further into the entire community.