BEIRA, June 5, 2018 – For years, the coastal city of Beira has been hit by violent storms and recurrent flooding. With poorly planned settlements, inadequate housing and the effects of climate change worsening, more than 300,000 residents were left vulnerable to climate-related disasters.
Through the Mozambique Cities and Climate Change Project, funded by $120 million IDA credit, the city has strengthened its resilience to weather-related hazards. The storm water drainage system has been rehabilitated, resulting in a 70% reduction in the risk of flooding. Upgrades include the rehabilitation/construction of 11 km of drainage canals, installation of flood control stations and the construction of a large water retention basin.
These changes represent “the end of the suffering of a whole population,” said Daviz Simango, the mayor of Beira. He added that the investments made so far, notably the drainage system, were key for the implementation of the city’s master plan, developed in close consultations with city residents and supported by the World Bank and other development partners.
The city’s master plan envisages urban expansion, primarily in more elevated, less exposed parts of the city, at greater distance from the more exposed coastal zones. It also proposes longer term measures to increase resilience, such as developing green infrastructure to delay runoff and enhance retention, as well as create an additional drainage outlet to increase the drainage capacity at low tide and prevent flooding.
“Our green infrastructure project will transform Beira,” Simango said. “We will plant over 7000 trees, establish a botanical garden, reestablish mangroves, build recreational infrastructures such as theaters, among others. This is arguably the largest green infrastructure in the region.”
The green infrastructure is supported by the project, through a grant from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, which aims to transform the Chiveve River margin areas into a green urban park that offers ecosystem services (biodiversity, drainage, urban cooling and flood mitigation), as well as economic and recreational opportunities to Beira citizens.
Beira is not the only city at risk; Mozambique ranks third among African countries for exposure to risks resulting from climate variability, including high exposure of its cities to coastal and river flooding. This is especially challenge for the country’s urban residents, many of whom live in underdeveloped coastal areas.
“For the most part, Mozambique’s rapid urban population growth has been accompanied by a notable lack of corresponding investments in basic infrastructure,” said Michel Matera, World Bank senior urban specialist, and project leader. “Besides, the urban population growth is met with worsening deficits in urban services.”
Looking Ahead: Investing in Financial Resilience
The World Bank is also supporting the government’s goal to improve financial readiness to withstand recurrent natural disasters, such as droughts, flooding and tropical cyclones.
A series of high-level policy dialogues on financial resilience against disasters have been held, the last of which in December 2017. Among other things, the policy dialogue series supports the process of innovation and adaptation of the national economy to adversities resulting from the impacts of climate risks and disasters. It supports the diversification of financial protection instruments against disasters, adjusted to the country's fiscal capacity and flexible to meet the need for rapid access to liquidity.
The policy dialogue series also encourages the private sector to engage more actively in the search for initiatives and partnerships for domestic financing of the risks of disasters. In this context, the current government efforts to establish a National Disaster Management Fund and Sovereign Insurance, which are necessary for the protection of the population and infrastructure, is regarded a best practice.