When it Comes to Climate Resilience for Cities, Local Leadership Makes a Big Difference

By Climatelinks

In Mozambique’s coastal cities, home to 60 percent of the country’s 28 million people, frequent flooding is a major problem – particularly for poor populations living in low-lying areas. With projections for an increase in storm-induced flooding as well as significant sea level rise, interventions to reduce vulnerability are vital.
Municipalities are trying to take action, but financial resources are scarce and risk management capacity is not enough to meet the challenge. One example of progress, however, is the Coastal City Adaptation Project (CCAP) a 5-year activity aimed at increasing the climate-resilience of Mozambican cities.

The Coastal City Adaptation Project was spotlighted at the May monthly Adaptation Community Meeting.  The project has had a range of valuable, scalable experiences, particularly in its sustained support for two major cities, Pemba and Quelimane. In these cities, the project has worked side by side with the National Association of Municipalities in Mozambique to develop local adaptation plans, known by their acronym in Portuguese, PLAs.
Large areas of Quelimane are below sea level, making 85 percent of the city’s area vulnerable to flooding, intense winds and tidal surges. Nearly 35 percent of the area of Pemba faces the same risks. Given that Mozambique has had twice as many cyclones in the last two decades as in the prior two, and twice as many classified as Category 4 or 5, these cities face a daunting challenge.

Mayors and city councils actively led the development of the local adaptation plans, with extensive stakeholder consultations.  The plans outline city-specific adaptation options, such as restoration of coastal mangroves and design guidelines for climate-smart houses, and a clear plan of action to implement them.
“The participatory approach, with mayors leading the way, helped us a great deal,” said Maria Olanda Bata, Chief of Party for the project. “It enabled people to have a sense of ownership, and to develop a plan determined by the city and for the city.”
An integral aspect of the process was the formal ratification of the plans by each city’s municipal council. Subsequently councils integrated plans into annual planning and – importantly – into budgeting.
“Plans without resources can’t be implemented.  This is what the mayors themselves said.  And with the ratification they are setting clear goals on how to tackle the priorities,” Ms. Bata said.  Alongside the cities’ efforts to identify their own funding sources for local adaptation plans, the Coastal City Adaptation Project is helping them identify support through donors and development agencies.
Based on the successful plan designs in Pemba and Quelimane, the project and the country’s association of municipalities are planning to scale up partnerships in three other coastal cities.

More than 70 people attended this Adaptation Community Meeting, either in person or online. Registration for the June meeting is available on the events page of Climatelinks.


Adaptation, Urban
Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Resilience, Urban



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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