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Climate Change and Poor Urban Planning Adds to Nigeria’s Receding Coastline

Huge swaths of Okun Alfa’s landscape ​have been consumed by the sea, says the convener of the community’s ocean surge response, Oladotun Hassan. It’s half the size it once was. Properties that were nowhere near the ocean 10 years ago now sit just a few steps away. On Lagos Island, the coastline is even approaching the palace of Okun Alfa’s traditional ruler, Chief Elegushi Atewolara Yusuf. And this is his new one — his older one has already been washed away by the sea. A projection on sea-level rise by the University of Plymouth showed that an increase of just 1 to 3 meters “will have a catastrophic effect on the human activities” in Nigeria’s coastal environments, including Lagos, a low-lying city on the Atlantic coast. ​Scientists say that a rise of up to one meter could happen by 2100 if emissions levels do not decrease dramatically. On Lagos Island community leaders fault the construction of an entirely new coastal city, called “Eko Atlantic.” They say the project has worsened the surge of water towards their part of the coastline, pushing their homes underwater. The city is being built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic, on a former beach on Lagos’ Victoria Island.