"Building resilient education infrastructures is key to protecting the investments in human capital,” said Lucia Nhampossa, an education specialist at the World Bank as she summed up the important investments made by the World Bank to build resilient educational infrastructure in the face of intensive weather hazards and its heavy toll on educational infrastructure.
Following the devastating floods of 2015, which hit the education sector particularly hard with over 2,300 classrooms damaged or destroyed, the World Bank provided a much-needed swift response through the approval later that year of the Emergency Resilience Recovery Project (ERRP). The project funneled $40 million to fund weather-resistant key infrastructures, including educational facilities.
More than 700 classrooms were that rehabilitated or built up until 2021. As a follow up to what seemed to be a successful undertaking, another 3,000 classrooms are being retrofitted under a parent project: the Disaster Management and Resilience Project. “The primary school Josina Machel in the district of Nicoadala, in Zambezia province, is an illustration of the ongoing efforts,” said Xavier Chavana, a World Bank disaster risk management specialist. “The school rehabilitation incorporated resilient techniques that allowed it to withstand strong winds from Cyclone Idai in 2019, unlike the schools that did not incorporate the same technical standards.”
Government leadership is key
Mozambique is in the process of implementing an ambitious National Disaster Risk Management Plan (2017-2030). The plan aims to transform the policy dialogue on disaster resilience by building sectoral resilience and early warning systems under the assistance of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery’s (GFDRR) Africa Caribbean Pacific-Natural Disaster Risk Reduction (ACP-EU NDRR) Program. The government’s resolve is strong, as echoed by Mozambique’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Ernesto Max Elias Tonela, at the World Bank Group/IMF Annual Meetings event held in Washington DC in October 2022.
“Despite our challenges and vulnerabilities, Mozambique remains fully committed to ensure a better and more resilient future. We are working proactively to mitigate the effects of disasters caused by climate change, including the development of financial protection mechanisms with support from the World Bank,” said Minister Tonela.
Improved knowledge sharing
The ERRP introduced new building methods and specialized technical standards for the design and construction of resilient educational infrastructure.
Insufficient knowledge of resilient construction techniques across the construction industry was a major bottleneck that the operation set out to address through the deployment of skills development programs, and transfer of knowledge and know-how. A series of capacity building activities were delivered throughout the project life cycle to equip contractors, NGOs, and technical staff of the Ministry of Education and Human Development, which have proven to be the key for the sustainability of the project investments and beyond.
The training included building resilient classrooms using both mixed and conventional construction materials as well as trainings on ensuring compliance with technical specifications set forth in tender documents. A pilot experiment resized school buildings to withstand windspeeds of up to 207 km/h. These technical designs were developed in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH) as well as the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), a valuable partnership that facilitated knowledge transfers and best practices.
This process also encouraged collaboration between communities and authorities in the construction and rehabilitation processes, which prompted the sense of collective ownership and responsibility to protect the rehabilitated classrooms as common goods.
"Communities involvement is an important factor. They are the main beneficiaries. Involving them is the best way to instill the sense of ownership as most schools in rural areas are built by communities with non-conventional materials,” said Artur Cumbane, Coordinator of ERRP at MINEDH, adding that the integration of resilient techniques means that classrooms will last longer in the face of natural hazards, allowing MINEDH to focus on other priorities.