Chokwe, Mozambique 2 November 2016--Between August and September 2015, DiMSUR - the Technical Centre for Disaster Risk Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience (DiMSUR) founded by governments of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Comoros and UN-Habitat - conducted the City Resilience Action Planning (cityRAP) Tool process in Chokwe municipality in Mozambique with participation of the local community.

Less than one year after the CityRAP Tool was conducted, Chokwe municipality and local community started spontaneously to organize themselves to lead the city resilience process with effective actions in order to implement their resilience plan developed with the CityRAP tool.

The CityRAP Tool is an innovative city resilience framework for action developed by DiMSUR technicians to improve local, capacities for reducing vulnerability and building the resilience of communities to natural and climate change-related hazards in the Southern African region.

Among the main actions conducted by Chokwe community is the reorganization of the informal settlements in the urban area. “With CityRAP we learnt the main lesson: we have to include the local population on the issues of urban planning and for everything that is community-related”, says Evangelina Dundanani Maninguane Pfondo, chief officer of Chokwe Municipal Council, who participated of the CityRAP trainings from the beginning. “After CityRAP we initiated the reorganization of the neighborhoods, rearranging the settlements, opening new roads, identifying and opening new drainage canals to storm water in order to mitigate the floods. We also improved the sanitation with solid waste management”, says Pfondo.

The spontaneous actions and the process ownership by Chokwe inhabitants and municipality “show the strength of a participatory approach well-succeed”, according to Mathias Spaliviero, UN-Habitat’s Senior Officer from the Regional Office for Africa and part of DiMSUR founding team.

A concrete example of the participatory approach strength can be seen at the community engagement in creating a peaceful resettlement process to the population who used to live in risk areas. The participatory approach is now applied to all the planning activities in Chokwe. “We had a complete community engagement, which makes the resilience building easier and more encouraging, particularly in such a low-capacity city”, says Marcia Guambe, from DiMSUR team in Mozambique.

Promoting local economy to resilience

The resilience action plan produced by Chokwe community also focuses on building economic and social resilience as a way to protect people from the broad impacts of hazards and climate change. “We are promoting the local economy by improving the agriculture production conditions”, says Pfondo, from the Municipal Council. “Chokwe is a primarily rural area that is why we built a new bridge to connect the agricultural areas with roads to distribute the production. We bought two tractors, which are used and managed by the local farmers themselves, leveraging the local economy”, she explains.

A risk history

Since 2003, UN-Habitat has been conducting participatory planning and mapping activities, consultancies, and trainings in Chokwe. After the implementation of the CityRAP tool in 2015, with a simple and systematic capacity-building methodology and realistic expected achievements, the local community spontaneously initiated the implementation of the resilience plan produced collectively.

Chokwe is a 55,000 inhabitants city, 230 km far from the capital Maputo. It is considered the economic core of Gaza Province due to its high agricultural potential and fertile lands. However, this potential is constantly threatened by natural and climate change hazards. Chokwe is located at the watershed of Limpopo River, which makes the city prone to frequent floods and cyclones. Moreover, Chokwe also suffers the effects of drought in some periods. Chokwe vulnerability to hazards is also affected by the effects of climate change causing temperature rise, unpredictability of dry and rain seasons and sea level rise.

Furthermore, Chokwe also faces a rapid population growth, formation of informal settlements, occupied without considering the common risks that threaten the city.

According to the Action Plan for Resilience made by the community of Chokwe with the facilitation of DiMSUR, the priority issues to protect the population are: neighborhood planning, solid waste management, drainage, public lighting, education and health facilities. To all these questions, the community suggested implementable solutions. Now, the engaged community decided to actually implement the changes discussed during the CityRAP tool process.