For a moment, I thought that that was the fate of Grand-Popo, to be left to the mercy of nature and just disappear within a few years. I was relieved to know that with the help of the World Bank, a new infrastructure is being put into play. The Benin government is developing an enormous project to build a wall in the sea that will break the waves before they arrive to the coast and in this way slow down coastal erosion.
But this change does not come without creating problems. The project for building the wave-breaking wall started already near Cotonou. All along the coast, villages are being destroyed and people displaced to give way to its construction. Grand-Popo is no exception and this construction will come to it soon.
Living with uncertainty
When I walk in the village of Gbecon and speak with the locals, they show me the parts of the village that will be destroyed. Some will deny it will happen, others will assure you that the village will be destroyed and displaced. The future is unpredictable: tt seems that what is coming is to benefit the population, but then again a four lane highway will be built on the sand dune just in front of Villa Karo, crossing through the whole of Grand-Popo.
This is it, right here, what it means to live on the forefront of climate change. Not necessarily a certainty that the place you call home will be destroyed, but a heavy uncertainty about what will happen, about your future and that of your community.
We, in the global north, have created a problem and we are not willing to change our ways to revert it. We keep on hiding behind our certainty that things will work out, feeling no need to change the ways we consume, appropriate, build, destroy, move on.
The people who pay for it are here, stuck between the floods of the river and the sea, waiting for a flood, an eviction or a highway, waiting for whatever might come their way and fighting their way through it. This is it, the consequence of the western ways, the destruction of security and a safe future of many people around the world we will never get the chance to meet or hear about.