AfricaHot!

6 African heritage sites under threat from climate change

From rock art in southern Africa to pyramids along the River Nile, humans have been leaving their mark across the continent for millennia.

But extreme weather events, the rise in sea levels and other challenges associated with the changing climate are threatening to destroy invaluable cultural landmarks, a recent study warns.

The heritage sites are the coast of Ghana, Suakin, in north-eastern Sudan, The Old Town in Lamu in Kenya, The Comoros, Twyfelfontein in Namibia’s Kunene region and Djenné form some of the most iconic images of Mali. 

Writing in the Azania journal, researchers from the UK, Kenya and the US say that “significant intervention” is needed to save these heritage sites.

As if to underline the warning, in recent weeks archaeologists in Sudan have been trying to stop floodwater from the River Nile from reaching the UN-designated World Heritage Site at al-Bajrawiya.

The river floods every year, but people working in the area have never seen the water spread so far.

The authors of the Azania report have identified a number of sites that they consider under threat.

The coast of Ghana is dotted with fortified trading posts, founded between 1482 and 1786, that stretch 500km (310 miles) along the coast.

The castles and forts were built and occupied at different times by traders from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and the UK.

That infrastructure played a role in the gold trade and, later, in the rise and fall of the slave trade between Africa and the Americas.

But the forts are located in areas that are highly vulnerable to the impact of storm surges and the rise in the sea level.

Prof Clarke says some examples of that architecture, such as Fort Prinzenstein in Keta, eastern Ghana, are being “eroded into the sea”.

Comparing current images of the fort with ones shot 50 years ago, it is possible to see the way that the structure has crumbled.

Some countries are better placed to deal with the impact of climate change on their cultural heritage.

Egypt, for example, sits on a low-lying region at “severe risk of flooding in the coming decades” yet is well-equipped to deal with some of the challenges.

There are places like the self-declared republic of Somaliland which has some ancient cave drawings but needs more help in protecting them. -BBC

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
Close