Mozambique’s coastal cities, which are home to 60 percent of the country’s population, are the primary drivers of the country’s economic development. However, because of their locations, they are some of the most vulnerable cities in Africa, exposed to sea level rises in sea level, natural disasters, and other effects of climate change. Recurring events such as cyclones and tropical storms can seriously affect urban infrastructure, biodiversity, and the health of local communities. Recognizing the significant role of climate change on Mozambicans’ livelihoods, mayors and citizens from the cities of Pemba and Quelimane have sprung into action to strengthen their resilience with assistance from the USAID-funded Coastal City Adaptation Project (CCAP).
The five-year project partners with the Mozambique Institute for Disaster Management — as well as municipal governments, civil society, and universities — to counteract these vulnerabilities and improve the lives of residents in Pemba and Quelimane. Increasing municipal understanding and application of urban adaptation solutions and boosting local capacity to manage resources are both critical to helping promote the adoption of these adaptation solutions by other cities in Mozambique and other countries.
To create a high level of ownership among local governments and citizens, CCAP takes a stepwise approach to resilience in Pemba and Quelimane, using interventions that match local capacity and needs. This approach also ensures that interventions are successful before they are broadened to tackle larger climate change challenges or spread to other communities.
Such strategies are already yielding early and significant results. Using an approach that emphasizes inclusion and participation, both municipalities have developed vulnerability maps. The Pemba government has gone one step further, incorporating its previously developed cadaster with the map to highlight vulnerable buildings and inform future construction efforts.
In Quelimane, the local government set aside 37 acres of land to restore previously destroyed mangrove forests, which help prevent erosion and reduce the impacts of strong winds. Building off this restoration, the project is now working with communities to develop sustainable economic opportunities associated with the mangroves such as fishery cultivation and producing honey.
The program’s stepwise approach has also had immediate impact outside of Pemba and Quelimane. In the first year of the project, CCAP developed a mobile phone-based early warning system, providing warnings for climatic events and helping disaster management officials assess post-disaster needs and responses. The National Institute for Disaster Management recognized the benefits of bringing this system to the rest of the country; CCAP subsequently drove its national expansion and trained disaster management officials around the country on using the tool. This collaborative and training-driven approach ensures that cities have the capacity to provide services to boost resilience — which helps them not only to adapt to a changing climate but also to respond to severe natural disasters.