West Africa Coastal Areas Management Program (WACA)

The WACA Program helps countries access expertise and finance to sustainably manage their coastal areas. It was created in response to countries’ request for solutions and finance to help save the social and economic assets of coastal areas, and coastal erosion and flooding in particular. The WACA Program provides Technical Assistance, Investment Finance, and has announced to launch a High-Level Investment Platform to crowd in additional partners to mobilize the resources at the scale needed.

West Africa’s coastal areas are home to about one-third of the region’s people—and the population is growing four percent each year. A very large proportion, about 42%, of West Africa’s GDP is generated from its coastal areas. More than 1.6 million tons of fish are legally captured in West African waters each year, with an estimated wholesale value of US$2.5 billion. The coast hosts major cities, ports, agro-industries, fisheries, offshore petroleum exploration and production.

The region hosts an abundance of natural resources, on land and at sea, which provides vital ecosystem services. These resources help drive economic growth, boost resilience in the face of climate change, and provide the livelihoods of many poor people.

Unsustainable infrastructure development, inadequate management of natural habitats and resources, and pollution threaten the productivity of coastal ecosystems. Climate change–related events such as sea-level rise and warming, land subsidence, storm surge, and increased coastal flooding contribute to the vulnerability of the region. Coastlines are eroding as much as 10 meters per year in some areas, while fisheries are fully or overexploited. Less than 10% of urban areas have access to sewage services, and 20-30% of mangroves have been lost to degradation and destruction in the last quarter century alone.

West African coastal countries are taking action by raising a unified voice, and co-creating a regional approach to ensure that coastal areas can be sustained for future generations. National borders are not useful when it comes to erosion; the efforts of one country to curtail erosion can exacerbate erosion elsewhere. The financing needed to contain erosion and flooding is greater than what individual countries have access to. Coordination and collaboration at both the policy and technical levels can help countries manage erosion hotspots, and maintain the livelihoods that a healthy coastal ecosystem provides to people and economies.

The Economic Commission for Africa’s new Policy Handbook on the Blue Economy advocates for the sustainable use, management, and conservation of aquatic and marine ecosystems and associated resources. It is anchored on strong regional cooperation and integration, considers structural transformation as an imperative for Africa's development, and advocates for a complete departure from enclave development models.

WACA, in response to this growing need for regional integration, works with regional institutions like the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, the Abidjan Convention of UN Environment, and the Ecological Monitoring Center. In 2009 WAEMU, entrusted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the preparation of the West African Coastal Area Management Plan (SDLAO), which now serves as very strong foundation for sustainable development in the coastal zone of West Africa.

In response to the challenges in coastal zone management expressed by West African governments, WACA has mobilized technical assistance and finance in support of existing coastal management initiatives in the region, and to helps countries integrate infrastructure and natural resources management in order to enhance their resilience in the face of climate change, and coastal erosion and flooding in particular.

Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is provided to determine the factors that threaten people, ecosystems, and economic assets along the coast. It also offers finance for identifying multi-sector solutions such as land management and spatial planning, infrastructure, natural habitat management, and pollution management.

Science and modelling: To better understand the science and bio-physical environmental conditions affecting coastal erosion, the Bank undertook the study “Human Interventions and Climate Change Impacts on the West African Coastal Sand River”. This study is to derive a regional-scale sediment budget analysis for Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin. The report documents how sand originating from rivers and from large coastal sand deposits, is now retained behind river dams and/or interrupted at by port jetties. As a result the, the report concludes, the sandy coastal barrier is eroding almost everywhere along the coast from Cote d’Ivoire to Benin.

Analyses of economics, risks, stakeholders and communication: Nordic Development Fund is sponsoring the baseline information required to make informed decisions on coastal zone management in four countries.

Multi-Sector Investment Plans: With support from the Africa Climate Investment Readiness Partnership, a mechanism supported by Germany, Multi-Sector Investment Plans have now been preparation several countries, and the WACA Program hope to mobilize additional resources to provide investment planning support to additional countries.

Social and Community Development: The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is sponsoring the development of a Decision-Making Framework for Planned Relocation which countries can use as part of their decision to engage in adaptation in-situ, incentivized relocation, or a specific relocation program.

Ecosystem Services Evaluation: Building on lessons from the WAVES Partnership, approaches for using ecosystem services valuation and natural capital accounting in the coastal zone context have been assessed.

Supporting NDC Implementation: The NDC Partnership Support Facility is providing funding to pilot an approach to result-oriented action to meet Cote d’Ivoire’s National Determined Contribution (NDC) focusing on coastal adaptation.

Remote sensing: The WACA Program is in dialogue with the European Space Agency (ESA), French Naval Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOM), and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on approaches to cube data management, setting baseline of bathymetry, and monitoring changes to the coastal environment.

Investment Finance

Based on the commitment made in the Africa Climate Business Plan, the World Bank entered the project entitled WACA Resilience Investment Project (WACA ResIP) in to the pipeline with an expected Board approval in the first semester of 2018. The indicative amount that could be made available for this regional program from International Development Association (IDA) resources is USD 150m.

The project aims to improve management of shared natural and man-made risks, including climate change, affecting targeted coastal communities and areas on the West Africa coast. It is designed as a regional integration project providing finance to countries and regional organizations. As such, it serves as a forum within which countries and regional organizations can share lessons learned, and solutions. 

Six countries (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, and Togo) have been engaged through country consultations and preparatory studies. The countries were selected based on demand for Bank support for assistance, and where resources were available for the preparatory work. The project is engaging the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, the Abidjan Convention of UN Environment, the Center for Ecological Monitoring, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The regional integration project seeks to unite development partners around country-led Multi-Sector Investment Plans (MSIP) so that adequate resources can be mobilized for interventions at the scale needed to reduce the risk imposed on people by coastal erosion and flooding. As part of the technical assistance provided, countries have prepared or are currently preparing multi-sector investment plans that prioritize a series of projects needed to control erosion and flooding, and also address other pressures such as marine pollution.

A first phase of six countries will join the WACA regional investment project with the possibility for the rest of the 17 countries from Mauritania and Gabon to join at a later stage. This will enable the countries and partners to mobilize the finance at the scale needed in terms of the number of countries covered, and in terms of the resources needed to get the coastal erosion and flooding under control in West Africa.

The methodology for selecting hotspots is based primarily on the existing West African Coastal Area Management Plan (SDLAO), and country specific analyses generating a lists the most vulnerable areas West African coast, based on geomorphology (sandy coast, rocky, mangroves).

Regional engagement is primarily via existing platforms of collaboration in the region. For example, in collaboration with the West Africa economic and Monetary Union, an engagement event was held in October 2016 with countries that expressed interest in WACA. The three-day event allowed countries to discuss coordination between the various actors, sectors and institutions, and the technical and financial cooperation mechanisms needed, including regional cooperation. The Abidjan Convention COP12 in March 2017, served to undertake the official Identification Mission for the project, and conduct consultations on the climate change, economics and policy story of the erosion issues, as well as specific consultations on the proposed social development/community development component of the project. The World Bank Group Annual Meeting in October 2017 served to confirm demand for the World Bank to set up the WACA High-Level Platform, which eventually would be transferred to a suitable West Africa regional organization.

Discussions are underway with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD), the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) about a common framework of investment in support of country-led investment plans for sustainable management of coastal areas.

The principal partners of WACA are its ultimate beneficiaries: the people who live along the West African coast and depend on it for their livelihoods, nutrition, food security, and prosperity.

The program collaborates with national decision makers, including the ministries of finance, planning, economy, environment, agriculture, transport, energy, media and civil society, among others.

WACA convenes countries to access expertise and finance to sustainably manage their coastal areas. It was created in response to countries’ request for solutions and finance to help save the social and economic assets of coastal areas.

A regional approach is essential to manage West Africa’s coastal areas, whether on policy, observation, or investments. It must be anchored on strong cooperation and integration, and focus on transformation, a departure from enclave development models.

To help deliver on this promise, the WACA Program now include the preparation of a High-Level Platform that will help countries and projects become investment, and help mobilize the financing needed. The High-Level Platform will include an operational team of technical staff that works with regional organizations, and facilitating provision of technical assistance to countries. The aim is to ensure technical quality, monitoring and evaluation, consistency in approaches, knowledge exchange, and to upkeep the cadence in national project implementation.

WACA has engaged a number of organizations and programs, and the hope is that the sum of this collaboration will generate the action required to manage erosion and flooding in priority hotspots.

Currently, the following agencies and programs are engaged:

Please contact the WACA Team at (dlotayef@worldbankl.org or pkristensen@worldbank.org) if you are interested in joining forces with the program.



Events and News

Paris, France, December 12, 2017 - One Planet Summit

President of France Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and opened the One Planet Summit plenary session on December 12 with a call to action for climate resilience on Africa’s coast, prominently featuring the West Africa Coastal Area (WACA) Management Program. Emotional applause from international leaders followed the WACA video.
The One Planet Summit became a clarion call for adaptation along the 17 countries that comprise West Africa’s coast, and was a successful kick start for the mobilization of finance for 2018 and beyond. World Bank Group President Kim also noted that clear demand of African leaders is driving this unprecedented work. WACA was one of 12 examples of concrete solutions to complicated problems worsened by climate change.

Ministers from West Africa joined World Bank senior management, partners and donors for a panel event, “Scaling Up Coastal Resilience in West Africa,” on October 14 during Annual Meetings 2017. The panelists included H. E. Jose Didier Tonato, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development for Benin; H. E. Sani Yaya, Minister of Economy and Finance of Togo; and H. E. Mansour Faye, Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal.
The event underscored the urgency of addressing the causes of coastal erosion and flooding in a sustainable manner and the need for regional cooperation among West African countries, public and private sectors, and the partners and donors involved. There was wide consensus in the urgent need to mainstream coastal resilience in development planning and infrastructure across the region. For more information check out the event page.

Benin, Togo, Ghana August 20-23, 2017: Vice President for Sustainable Development Laura Tuck and Senior Director for Environment and Natural Resources Karin Kemper traveled to Benin, Togo and Ghana, accompanied by Manager Benoit Bosquet and Lead Environmental Specialist Dahlia Lotayef, to observe the threats and challenges of severe coastal erosion and increased flooding on the ground. They discussed the causes and mitigation measures with national and municipal authorities as well as community leaders in the context of the West Africa Coastal Areas Resilience Investment project under preparation. They were joined by Pierre Laporte (CD), Joelle Dehasse (CM in Togo), Erick Abiassi and Boulel Toure (acting CMs in Benin), Anne Cécile Souhaid (Sr. Transport Specialist based in Abidjan), Koffi Hounkpe (Sr. DRM Specialist in Togo), and Sylvie Nenonene (Sr. Communications Officer), among others.
The field visits to significant coastal erosion hotspots were the culmination of the visit on the Benin side, including a site at Grand-Popo and another one at Hillacondji (at the Benin-Togo border).  Laura Tuck and Karin Kemper were offered new insights on WACA plans, especially the vital regional coastal erosion component to address jointly the impacts on both Benin and Togo. The World Bank mission then proceeded to Togo, where they were welcomed at the border by the Togolese Minister of Environment and Forest Resources (André Johnson), the Mayor of Aného (Patrice Ayivi), the traditional chief and the WB Country Manager. Field visits included three coastal erosion hotspots at Aneho and Agbodrafo. Another field visit (August 23) took the team to the site of the Lomé Container Terminal (supported by IFC) where they had an opportunity to view the erosion to the east of the port terminal and the accumulation to the west. A mini-workshop took place at the Prime Minister’s office in Lomé and attended by five ministers (environment, agriculture, transport, and energy), the President’s Adviser on the Sea, the Prefet Maritime, high-level public officials and the WB team.

March 25 – 31, 2017:  The Abidjan Convention COP12 - the recent cornerstone event regarding regional erosion, was the perfect venue for the identification mission of the Bank’s proposed West Africa Coastal Areas Resilience Investment Project (WACA ResIP, P162337). At the COP, Environment ministers decided to support and promote the implementation of WACA, and its objectives of reducing the risk to coastal communities and promote multi-sectoral integrated and climate-change-resilient management of coastal areas. The ministers asked the Abidjan Convention secretariat to hold discussions with the World Bank Group to extend WACA to more countries (the Convention covers countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast from Mauritania to South Africa).  Click here for more information.

November 17, 2016: COP 22 - Africa Blue Economy Event: Oceans and Coastal Resilience: The event brought together countries and development partners to discuss resilience and adaptation in the blue economy, emphasizing progress made since the launch of the Africa Climate Business Plan at COP21, and the ways to accelerate implementation. Click here for more information.

November 12, 2016: COP22 - WACA is part of the “African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies , presented at COP22 by Africa Development Bank, FAO, and the World Bank. The Package consists of technical and financial assistance to support coastal and island states as they develop ocean-based economies and implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The Package is an unprecedented opportunity for three leading multilateral development organizations to join forces with others, including the Green Climate Fund, and coordinate planned assistance.

November 10-13, 2016: The WACA film “Saving West Africa's Coastal Assets” was awarded "Honorable Mention" at the 2016 Blue Ocean Film Festival in a competition among hundreds of films submitted from all over the world. The Blue Ocean Film Festival honors films with the belief that they are the most powerful tools to engage a broad global audience about the ocean, create a better understanding and empower next steps. The festival took place in St Petersburg, Florida, November 10-13, 2016.

On October 19-21, 2016, the West Africa Coastal Areas (WACA) team, in partnership with WAEMU/ IUCN/ NDF organized the official launch workshop for the West Africa coastal area erosion and adaptation project, with the participation of high-level delegates from several countries and key regional, technical and financial partners. For more information check out the related event page and the Communiqué.

On September 1-3, 2016, the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the Republic of Mauritius, organized the African Ministerial Conference on Ocean Economies and Climate Change. The conference brought together African countries, development partners, the private sector, scientists, thought leaders, civil society, academia, media and communities whose everyday lives depend on healthy oceans. Coastal resilience and management were at the top of the agenda, along with good fishing practices, improved and increased aquaculture and sustainable tourism, as well as greener and stronger ports. For more information check out the event page and the Comnuniqué.

On May 18-19, 2016, The government of Côte d’Ivoire organized the launch workshop of its activities under the WACA program in Grand-Lahou. The workshop program included discussions on the need for regional coordination and planning, improved governance, and the technical requirements for national and regional level monitoring. For more information check out the event page.

On April 21st, 2016, France signed an Administrative Agreement with the Bank to expand collaboration on the Blue Economy and on WACA. In support of West African countries and in collaboration with the World Bank and others, France will fund the establishment of a West Africa Coastal Observatory as well as technical assistance to leverage even more resources. Learn more from the official press releaseFrench Ministry of Environment press release and the description of WACA on the UN climate change website (French)

On March 17, 2016, the WACA team held a very successful learning event: Vulnerability and Resilience in the Coastal Zone of West Africa: Tools for Assessing Impacts and Adapting to Risks. The event is part of the WACA 2016 Learning Series.

On December 3, 2015 during COP 21 in Paris, The World Bank Group, African Heads of States and Development Partners launched a call to action to combat erosion and flooding in West Africa during the event "Living on the Edge: Saving West Africa’s Coastal Assets.


Human Interventions and Climate Change Impacts on the West African Coastal Sand River

This study is to derive a regional-scale sediment budget analysis for Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The report documents how sand originating from rivers and from large coastal sand deposits is now retained behind river dams and/or interrupted at several locations by port jetties.

WACA Multi-Sector Investment Plans

The MSIP’s provides a prioritized list of investment needed for physical and social investments, as well as for policy and institutions at national level. They vary a bit in approaches as they are based on existing processes in the concerned countries. Some apply a multi-criteria approach, others are based on local or national development plans for the coastal zone. But common for them all is that they have a set of prioritized investments from which the World Bank will support some projects, while partner financiers pick up other projects.


  • KS1: Strengthening Regional Collaboration and Integration: English | French
  • KS2: Improving Data and Information for Decision Making: English | French
  • KS3: Managing Coastal Risks in West Africa: English | French
  • KS4: Protecting the Region’s Natural Resources: English | French
  • KS5: Reducing Marine and Coastal Pollution: English | French
  • KS6: The Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Erosion in West Africa: English | French
  • KS7: Best Practices Playbook: Shifting Away from Sand Mining in West Africa: English | French
  • KS9: Coastal Natural Capital and the Economics in the Coastal Zone: English | French

The World Bank and the Blue Economy in Africa

There is great potential for growth of Africa’s Blue Economy through fisheries, aquaculture, minerals, energy, transport, and trade, as well as tourism. The World Bank, in cooperation with international partners, is supporting Africa’s Blue Economy through several programs, technical training, and coastal investments:

English | French


From Shared Coastal Vision to Sustainable Reality

West Africa’s coastal areas host an abundance of natural resources, on land and at sea, that provides vital ecosystem services and help buffer against severe weather events.