A delegation from Durban visited the Mozambican city of Nacala from 21st to the 25th August for a city to city learning exchange funded by the UNISDR (office for disaster risk reduction). The aim of the exchange was to share experience and build capacity in both cities, whilst identifying risk reduction measures to implement in Nacala’s master plan. This exchange forms part of a broader partnership between these cities and other northern Mozambican cities including Pemba and Quelimane.
During the opening session of the exchange, Mr Momade Amade, special advisor to Mayor Rui Chong Saw in Nacala, provided an overview of Nacala’s strengths and challenges in terms of risk reduction. Nacala’s strengths include strong political support, its status as a special economic zone, high levels of investment, a firm industry base and a relatively well-capacitated municipal climate change team. The main challenge observed was uncontrolled development, especially in environmentally sensitive areas. The development, which includes hardening of surfaces, increases storm water flow and erosive capacity down the steep escarpment to the deep water port. The storm water flows through beach sand (Nacala is basically situated on a historic sand dune) which is very easily eroded. The result is a series of deep ravines, the sedimentation of the deep water port (disrupting operations) and washing away of critical regional infrastructure. Nacala’s strategic importance as a regional transport hub and tourism destination is threatened by such erosion events.
In discussing solutions to these problems, it was clear that the city will need to establish some control of development while developing a multi-stakeholder engagement process, in partnership with the port authority, to identify solutions to these challenges. The port is very negatively impacted by the sedimentation of the deep water port as well as being regularly flooded by drainage from the city. Establishing a partnership with the city, the residents of Nacala and its industry will help the city to secure buy-in from the stakeholders to address the challenges. This is an action that can be taken immediately, and does not require any funding.
A solution that was proposed for the ravines was to develop community projects to grow and supply vetiver grass for the stabilization of the ravines. Vetiver grass is a very effective rehabilitation plant and is already being used extensively by residents in Nacala. It would therefore be relatively easy to organize communities to grow this grass in sufficient quantities for rehabilitation purposes, and through partnership, communities can be entrusted to maintain rehabilitated areas. A project proposal mooting this community-based approach to risk reduction, as well as the installment of gabion baskets (which is also employment intensive) in severe cases will be developed and submitted to UNISDR.
During the exchange, the Durban delegation and the UNSIDR observer, Ms Isabel Njihia, met with Mayor Saw to discuss taking this work forward. Mayor Saw agreed to commit Nacala to the ten principles of DRR by signing the Making My City Resilient pledge. Mayor Saw presented each delegate with a certificate of friendship from Nacala.