A local vision of climate adaptation: Participatory urban planning in Mozambique

Case Summary: 

Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique. It is located on the coast in a bay of the Indian ocean. It has a population of 1.1 million people and is the most densely populated city in Mozambique. Maputo is divided into two parts, the more affluent ‘cement city’ containing the newest developments and paved roads, and the poorer bairros. Though the majority of population lives in the bairros a lack of political voice among the poor has resulted in the bairros being under-served.

Due to its coastal nature, Maputo is subject to flooding and cyclones. Coupled with climate change and sea-level rise the city is vulnerable to weather hazards and damage, a risk that is disproportionately placed on the city’s poor. Standing floodwater can essentially freeze the poorer parts of the city for long periods of time. Reducing the risk to climate change in Maputo is challenging because it involves implementing low-cost technology and also organizing groups to elevate their voice to the city-level policymakers. In order to do this, the Public Private People Partnerships for Climate Compatible Development (4PCCD) project was launched and ran from 2011 to 2013. This program was successful in achieving many of its stated goals with few resources. The best practices and lessons learned from this program include:

  • Organizing existing groups to elevate their voices. In Maputo the policymakers heavily focused on relocation for bairros residents affected by climate change. Groups living in the bairros heavily opposed this idea viewing it as too great of cost to their livelihood. 4PCCD provided a forum for these groups to meet and self-organize to build a movement getting the attention of city leaders.
  • Developing new paradigms for urban planning. 4PCCD worked to develop new urban planning models that focused on people living in informal and underserved settings and how they would be affected by weather extremes and climate change.
  • Understanding what makes a successful partnership among related actors and how to provide support for these partnerships. 4PCCD established the Climate Planning Committee (CPC) to provide training to community members, facilitated the writing of a climate change action plan with citizen input, and then disseminated the action plan to attract new groups.
  • Use of a Participatory Action Plan Development where local communities were invited to share their experiences about extreme weather. These experiences were then incorporated into the climate change action plan. The participatory model was particularly focused on building partnerships with diverse groups focused on long-term objectives beyond the length of the 4PCCD program.

Ultimately 4PCCD was successful in directly increasing environmental education, waste management, and emergency flooding response. But it’s focuses on long-term programs with partnerships between diverse groups means progress on climate-resilience in the bairros of Maputo continues. The 4PCCD program was successful because it demonstrates that governmental institutions and businesses have a lot to gain from listening to local perspectives. Overall, local communities have a grounded understanding of climate change and can do a lot with limited resources by drawing on their own human capital when given the support of policymakers.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, Long-Term Strategies
Sectors and Themes 
Disaster Risk Reduction, Health, Poverty, Water
Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)
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