The City of Quelimane is vulnerable to natural and anthropogenic disasters. As a response measure to events such as cyclones and the high winds, the city has adopted the increase of the mangrove forest as a defence mechanism. This has been achieved through sensitization campaigns to raise awareness on the importance of mangrove ecosystems as a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and use. The communities have also been supplied with the mangroves seedlings and trained on how to plant and nurture them. Successive years of natural coastal erosion and landscape changes for agricultural use, as well as urbanization, have reduced the extent of the mangrove forest in certain areas. This has exposed the coastal communities to the devastating negative effects of climate change, particularly sea level rise.
Quelimane population has most economic activities situated along the coast and is now experiencing, more than ever before, a major threat from the rising sea. Sea level rise, flooding, saline intrusion, land erosion and decreasing biodiversity are phenomena of which occurrences have increased due to the impacts of climate change.
In Quelimane, mangroves are growing along the riverbanks, in estuaries and further inland, as well as along the entire muddy coast. The most commonly known mangrove specie is Avicenia marina. Seeing that the loss of the mangrove negatively affects their standard of living, the community has actively been involved in the mangrove reforestation and, some neighbourhoods close to the mangrove, formed local mangrove management committees that oversee the use of the mangroves. Some committees proposed use of the mangroves for bee keeping which has been a co-benefit to the initial project. The fear of being stung by bees also keeps people away from the mangroves.
The City of Quelimane experiences heavy rainfall that results in flooding and also high winds and cyclones. Approximately 85 per cent of the city is moderately to highly vulnerable. One of the risk drivers is destruction of the mangrove forest which is used as a source of fuel and building materials. Mangroves, by obstructing the flow of water with their roots/husks and leaves, can reduce the vulnerability of adjacent coastal lands from storm surges. The deforestation of mangroves in Quelimane increases the exposure of the communities to the adverse effects of natural disasters. As the magnitude and frequency of the storms and floods increase, the mangrove forest restoration is critical.
Apart from mangrove reforestation the city has been working towards introducing alternatives to the use of mangroves by the communities, such as: the use of bio-digestive septic tanks to produce biogas from the latrines, that would be used for cooking, introduction of fish farming and bee keeping as income generating activities, production of ecological bricks made from solid waste for construction and sale, to replace the use of poles.
The city still needs policy guidelines on the improvement, management and protection of mangroves including the development of protocols to Regional Seas Conventions that promote protection and sustainable use of mangroves, the implementation and enforcement of national laws and policies relevant to mangrove protection and management.
The main goals of the mangrove reforestation project were to:
The project entailed both hardware and software measures ranging from the regulatory framework to the actual planting of mangroves. The role of the communities in the success of this project cannot be over-emphasized. The activities included:
By quantifying in economic terms the value of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves as well as the critical role they play in global climate regulation, we are forced to introduce some tools and guidelines to better ensure the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves, such as the Local Adaptation Plan, Coastal and Beach Management Regulation, reinforcement of education and awareness of communities about the importance of the mangroves, study and dissemination of alternatives to the use of mangroves by the communities.
Building resilience for the City of Quelimane is a journey whose mileage can only be achieved by commitment to implementation of policies, plans and programmes geared towards the conservation of biodiversity, protection of ecological sensitive areas, and protection of life and livelihoods. The economic development of the city should not jeopardise its future by un-sustainable exploitation of the natural resources and increasing exposure to the impacts of climate change. We endeavour to make our city and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
‘The day we don’t have mangroves, our city won’t survive’: Quelimane, Mozambique, after Cyclone Idai
Restoring Mangroves in Mozambique in an Era of Climate Change
Dr. Manuel Araujo
City of Quelimane, Mozambique