Shoring Up against Climate Change in New Kru Town, Liberia

9 November 2019 - It is projected that a one-meter sea-level rise would lead to permanent inundation of about 95 km2 of land in the coastal zone of Liberia.

Densely populated parts of the capital city of Monrovia and its environs – including West Point, Hotel Africa, Kru Town, and River Cess - would be submerged.

Nascent sea level rise is already damaging the shoreline and affecting the coastal communities inhabiting the area. 

In the northwestern coastal community of New Kru Town, a suburb of the capital Monrovia, the dark tides of rising seas are literally washing away settlements, the community school, the docks, and coastal fish markets. As this infrastructure is eroded there are massive reverberations for housing, education, and livelihoods - fishing being chief among them.

For New Kru Town, with thousands of metres of sensitive coastline, and a scant six metres of rapidly eroding elevation standing between the ocean and residents, seasonal heavy rains and coastal erosion represent a growing threat.

In July 2018, the President of Liberia, George Weah, launched the second phase of the UNDP-supported project Enhancing Resilience of Vulnerable Coastal Areas to Climate Change Risks in Liberia (Coastal Defence Project Phase II for short), financed by the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund.

The Coastal Defence Phase II project is working to reduce vulnerability and build the resilience of local communities and socio-economic sectors to withstand the threats of climate change in Liberia’s coastal areas. It will reduce the vulnerability of physical assets and natural systems, protect coastal areas, build national capacity and drive policy co-ordination, and demonstrate sustainable and affordable measures to protect coastal areas against climate change impacts at New Kru Town.

The Environment Protection Agency, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Ministry of Public Works, with UNDP support, are leading its implementation on the ground.

The Coastal Defence Phase II project is working to protect New Kru town, one of the country’s most vulnerable coastal communities.

The main intervention in New Kru Town is the construction of a coastal defence wall targeting a stretch of 1200m along the shoreline which will be completed by the end of the project.

New Kru Town is predominantly a fishing community, so access to the sea is vital. Local fishermen worried that boat landings would be impossible if seawalls were constructed straight along the beach, so project engineers incorporated customised breakwaters into the design, which allow for easy launching and landing of local fishing vessels.

Further, a central fish market hall will be constructed as part of adaptation efforts, and the community school will be protected by the wall’s defences. Beyond coastal community protection, the seawall also has utility as a right-of-way, with community members utilising the structure as a coastal road.


Image: UNDP Liberia