Guadeloupe, French department most affected by coastal erosion

According to the latest Cerema study, by 2050 more than 5,000 homes will become uninhabitable due to natural erosion and rising sea levels. The Antilles archipelago alone accounts for more than 10% of these homes. threat.


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A house in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe, on the edge of the cliff.  April 2024 (BORIS LOUMAGNE / FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

“The equivalent of a football field disappears every week in our country due to the progression of the oceans”. This is the alert launched at the beginning of the month by the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu. This phenomenon risks further amplifying in the years to come. According to the latest study by the Center for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Mobility and Development (Cerema), by 2050 more than 5 000 homes would become uninhabitable.

The cause: natural erosion and rising sea levels caused by global warming. The most affected department is Guadeloupe. The Antilles archipelago alone accounts for more than 10% of threatened housing and several municipalities are already affected. In Petit-Bourg, for example, faced with the encroachment of the sea, around thirty families have already had to be relocated.

The beach has disappeared

To best observe the erosion of the cliffs in the commune of Petit-Bourg, you have to take to the sea. The water is brown here, and we quickly understand why. The ocher-colored cliffs, around ten meters high, are crumbling almost day by day. Diego is an instructor at the nautical base, he is above all a native of the country. “It all collapsed, and it’s getting worse. We used to walk everywhere here”, he said, observing the landscape. In 20 years, the beach has effectively disappeared, replaced by a pile of earth, dead trees and concrete blocks. “The sea has eaten everything. Below, we see a house that has fallen”he describes.

Several houses were in fact swept away by the landslides, others are balanced on the edge of the cliff. Vania, 68 years old, lives in one of these houses facing the sea “since the age of 17”. The cliff has never been so close to his house, about fifteen meters away. She must therefore leave the premises.

“I don’t want to leave. If I could have stayed there, I would have stayed. It’s my whole life, my whole youth, all the children wanted to stay.”

Vania, a resident of Petit-Bourg

at franceinfo

Find physical and legal security

Vania admits half-heartedly, she will end up leaving, like the thirty families already relocated elsewhere, in housing estates in the town. “No one leaves their home with joy of heart”is well aware Rony Saint-Charles, director of the 50 geometric steps agency.

With his team he is in charge of land regularization for rehoused residents, because it must be understood that all these houses were built 50 or even 100 years ago, without authorization, on land belonging to the State. “People are not owners, so we cannot expropriate them, they do not have a titlehe explains. From now on, the principle is that they can be relocated elsewhere by becoming owners, by having a title. We can say that they have two safeguards. Physical security in relation to natural risk and legal security in relation to the fact that they now own their home”he pleads.

Dialogue and propose concrete solutions to residents: this model developed in Petit-Bourg will be duplicated in around twenty other municipalities in Guadeloupe also threatened by rising water levels.

Guadeloupe victim of coastal erosion: report by Boris Loumagne

source site-29