Mounting a defence against climate change
CC DARE promotes climate change adaptation in Xai-Xai, Mozambique
“Through the CC DARE programme the communities of Xai-Xai have acquired knowledge on how to tackle adaptation to climate change. The concrete demonstration given by this programme has not only helped to strengthen the capacity of the people of this city but will also help provide the socio-economic information needed for future analysis of the impacts of climate change. These are the kind of actions we want in this city, in this country and in Africa.”
Mrs. Rita Muianga, Mayor of Xai-Xai
The force of a tropical rainstorm on coastal cities can be devastating. Houses and schools are washed away, enormous gullies appear on slopes, and roads simply disappear in the deluge. This shattering impact is worsened by increased run-off caused by deforestation and consequent inland soil erosion, and by climate change that threatens to bring rising sea levels and more extreme weather events. For coastal cities, such as Xai-Xai in Mozambique, which sits on the banks of the Limpopo River as it meets the Indian Ocean, facing the grim aftermath of storms may become a more frequent event.
The Climate Change and Development – Adapting by Reducing Vulnerability (CC DARE) project helps introduce sustainable techniques to adapt land use practices to increasing rainfall under a changing climate. In Xai-Xai this has meant training youth and women’s groups to make and maintain hollow building blocks, which are used to construct a retaining wall along one of the city’s main roads, to counter water erosion. Once completed, the wall was planted with grasses and shrubs that help retain soil as well as beautify the structure. Local people and authorities learnt about climate change adaptation, about the importance of maintenance and, most importantly, about the impact of small, targeted interventions made real through collective action.
What CCDARE Did
UNEP and UNDP, with funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, implemented a programme to demonstrate concrete adaptation action at the community level. In the case of Xai-Xai this meant partnering with the city council, the Centre for the Sustainable Development of Coastal Zones, and with the people of the city, to provide technical assistance and to support the establishment of communal committees to mitigate and prevent erosion and soil degradation.
The Big Picture
At a cost of less than $50,000, there has been a transformation in community and authority understanding of the relationship between the chronic erosion problems that plague the city and climate change. Crucially, it has also led to an increase in capacity to mobilize community action to protect against climate change, and develop strategies to adapt to it. The Xai-Xai project has also provided socio-economic information and data that will help model the impact of climate change on coastal cities elsewhere in Mozambique and across the developing world, enabling suitable adaptation action to be taken, with resulting savings in both time and money.