Stories from Mozambique: High impact, low cost interventions

by Sophia Rettberg, student at University College Maastricht and Resilient Cities 2018 volunteer

Coastal cities in Mozambique are responding to a range of hazards – and often doing so with limited resources and funding. At Resilient Cities 2018, mayors and senior municipal managers of Pemba and Quelimane presented some key projects aiming to address these hazards.

Vulnerability mapping in Pembra

Pemba, a port town on the northeastern coastof Mozambique, faces heavy rains, flooding and strong winds. To address these challenges, the town is applying a resilience lens to land use planning.

Through vulnerability mapping, Pembra is assigning risk and vulnerability values to plots of land. This helps the town strategically assign land use activities to each plot, and determine what sort of building materials should be used for housing and infrastructure projects.

Pembra has designed this vulnerability mapping to be a participatory process. Local residents engage in the mapping process, and give the town insight on how they are impacted by floods and other hazards. This provides relevant and experience-based information Pembra can draw on and apply in their planning.

Ecosystem recovery and smart housing in Quelimane

Quelimane, the second largest city in Mozambique, is affected by rising sea levels and managing a rapidly growing population and informal settlements. To address these challenges and changes, the city has prioritized mangrove restoration and smart housing projects as key interventions.

The city dedicated large territories to growing mangrove trees, as they naturally protect against flooding and provide a cooling effect against high temperatures. The initiative, which is led with local residents, offers trainings on caring for and protecting the mangroves. Their involvement provides residents with knowledge about climate issues and resilience, which gives them a new lens to consider when it comes to their own economic and social activities.

The smart housing project in Quelimane is a pilot initiative that uses resilient design principles to provide more affordable and safer housing alternatives. The models use materials that can withstand environmental strain, and have been constructed with the help of local builders. Through the pilot, these builders gain firsthand knowledge of resilient design principles, which can be further replicated.

Through these initiatives, Pembra and Quelimane have deployed interventions in a resource-constrained setting and laid the foundation for community-scale changes by bringing their residents along in the process.

This blog post is based on the Building resilience in the face of limited resources: The case of Mozambican coastal cities session at Resilient Cities 2018.