By: Hecralito Mucavele (Maputo embedded researcher)
Many of the municipalities in Mozambique are expected to be impacted by climate change, and the greatest impact of climate change in the coming years will be in the form of increased exposure to natural disasters. Coastal municipalities are particularly at risk of cyclones and, in the medium to long term, of rising sea levels. In the case of the Municipality of Maputo, it is located in the coastal zone and is vulnerable to flooding, soil erosion, particularly when vegetation is removed even from small slopes, for construction or for agriculture.
It is estimated that more than 70% of urban residents in Mozambique live in unplanned settlements, lacking infrastructure and public services. Within municipalities, informal settlements are often vulnerable, as many are located in environmentally hazardous areas such as flood plains and steep slopes.
Strategies to address climate change have only been approved in the past two years and so far there has been little systematic awareness raising on issues of climate change between municipal officials and citizens. The Municipality of Maputo has been developing several tools to respond to problems resulting from climate change but unfortunately, there has been limited application of these tools in practice.
I feel very proud and committed to being part of the FRACTAL Maputo team. When I saw the ad on the newspaper I did not hesitate to apply because I felt that it was a good opportunity to help answer some of the problems that this city faces under conditions of climate change. And as someone who has experience working with the Municipality (for more than 10 years), I believe I have the right sets of skills and contextual knowledge to contribute to solving these problems. It seems that through initial engagements, such as the learning lab, FRACTAL has already set objectives that are well aligned with potential solutions to for these problems. One of the major objectives of the FRACTAL project is to jointly produce new knowledge on climate change and urban development relevant to the city of Maputo and its surroundings (as well as seven other cities in southern Africa) and to become involved in a learning process. This will support the City Council of Maputo City in robust decision-making processes that integrate climate information, where relevant.
As a FRACTAL embedded researcher, I see a good opportunity to help respond to these problems as a result of climate change, trying to replicate what to learn to other cities that suffer the same problems. I am very excited (and somewhat anxious) to be part of this huge team and I have realized that a lot of work to do and that will positively change my professional life. In summary, I hope the project will contribute to achieving the following objectives:
- Provide training and technical assistance for the development of climate and water compatible land use planning tools in The Municipality.
- Provide support for an integrated local action package to increase resilience.
- Provide the municipality and stakeholders with awareness and knowledge about vulnerability to climate change as well as risks, and how to increase resilience.
- Support the municipality in the preparation of local adaptation plans that involve civil society in the planning and implementation process.