July 2020 - A two-day virtual inception workshop marked the official start of ‘Building Urban Climate Resilience in South Eastern Africa,’ the first multi-country project of UN-Habitat funded by the Adaptation Fund. The four-year USD 14 million project will strengthen urban resilience, promote disaster risk reduction and increase climate change adaptation in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros.

The event, which attracted nearly 200 participants, was attended by the national and local governments of the four countries and project cities (Morondava, Zomba, Chokwe and Moroni), diplomats, international organizations, private sector, research institutions, United Nations agencies and the general public.

At the launch, Raf Tuts, Director of Global Divisions at UN-Habitat stated: “By building urban climate resilience, we can shift the paradigm from one of disaster response to disaster risk management. This project will contribute to urban resilience in the region, building on existing efforts and harnessing and amplifying the talents, ideas and enthusiasm that is already so apparent.“

The four countries of the project, with the facilitation of UN-Habitat, joined forces in 2013 to establish DiMSUR, the sub-regional Technical Centre for Disaster Risk Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience. The Centre fosters the development and dissemination of knowledge and solutions for disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and urban resilience and will coordinate the regional-level activities of the project.

Mikko Ollikainen, Manager of the Adaptation Fund Secretariat said: “Our support to vulnerable countries ranges across nine sectors including urban development and Disaster Risk Reduction which are areas where Southern African countries face significant challenges induced by rapid urbanization and recurrent natural hazards.

“By supporting national governments to create enabling conditions for scaling up and replicating the same climate resilience approach in other urban settlements, we have confidence in this project to create conditions for impacts beyond its 4 years term.

The project is funded by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by UN-Habitat alongside the four Governments, OXFAM, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and DiMSUR. Country and city level working groups were formed to facilitate the planning and implementation process.

Priority actions for the project will cut across regional, national and city levels and include preparation and implementation of sub-projects, development of tools and guideline for training delivery and inter-country sharing of experiences and lessons learnt.

The event included a dialogue session between representatives from the national government and city administrations to share key challenges and opportunities in their countries.

“In Madagascar, climate change is a reality the consequences of which are being felt more and more. The most common are cyclones, floods and droughts. These hazards put the Malagasy population and its development activities in a situation of repetitive and growing vulnerability.” said Harimanana Rabe, Director-General of Regional Planning, Madagascar.

Gabril Belém Monteiro, Deputy Director General of the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC), Mozambique said: “The Government of Mozambique recognizes, supports and makes efforts to mitigate these challenges through various initiatives, especially the activities of INGC, the establishment and approval of DiMSUR by the Council of Ministers and the implementation of the Housing Profile study in Mozambique.”

The project will work with four cities, the four national governments and a regional institution to implement a mix of city-level resilient infrastructure projects, national-level capacity building, and a regional mechanism for learning and collaboration. It is anticipated that the project will directly benefit the lives and livelihoods of around 350,000 people in the four countries.

Mr. James Chiusiwa, Director of Risk Reduction, Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events in Malawi said: “Working with UN-Habitat, we spearheaded some of the very first resilience interventions in urban areas and we are happy to see multiple partners, including development partners, investing in urban resilience.”