Adapting to climate change

Project description

Title: Adapting to climate change
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mozambique
Lead executing agency: National Directorate of Water Resources Management (DNGRH), National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC)
Overall term: 2012 to 2020


Mozambique is one of the countries most affected by the impacts of climate change. Widespread poverty, weak institutions and frequent extreme weather events make the country particularly vulnerable.

Droughts, floods and cyclones are occurring more and more often, with devastating consequences for the country’s population and infrastructure. Transboundary river basins are particularly hard hit, such as those shared with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The rise in extreme weather events is exposing the headwaters of these basins to soil loss and erosion. Uncontrolled logging, slash-and-burn farming and small-scale mining are compounding these effects. This in turn has a detrimental impact on the recharge of groundwater, soil retention capacity and the quality of surface water. Severe flooding is more frequently affecting the extensive river plains in downstream areas, often claiming lives and destroying livelihoods, particularly among the poorest of the poor. In most cases, both droughts and flooding result in crop losses and subsequent famines.


The national framework and the action taken by the relevant stakeholders in the Rio Búzi catchment area are better adapted to the impacts of climate change on water resources.


Numerous disaster risk management projects have led to the accumulation of valuable experience, particularly in relation to establishing flood early warning systems with the participation of the local population. The current project focuses on the legal protection and institutional integration of the early warning system. It also sets out to tackle the causes of disasters by improving catchment area management.

The project is advising and supporting the National Institute of Disaster Management (Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades, INGC) in developing a sustainability strategy and devising implementation rules for the national early warning system. In cooperation with the National Directorate of Water Resources Management (Direcção Nacional de Gestão de Recursos Hídricos, DNGRH), the project is providing support to decentralised sectoral authorities, the catchment area committee and the government districts involved. Cooperation among diverse stakeholders at various levels is vital to the success of the project and is therefore promoted intensively.

One of the project’s priorities is integrating adaptation measures into the management of the water catchment area. Mozambique is dominated by rivers and estuaries whose catchment areas it shares with neighbouring countries. In the light of the above negative impacts of droughts and floods, it is of crucial importance to protect these areas and improve the management of available water resources. A committee has been formed consisting of representatives of major water users, including the agricultural sector, municipalities, water suppliers, the energy sector, civil society and environmental protection groups active in the region. Working with these users, the project sets out to prioritise catchment area-specific adaptation measures that will reduce the vulnerability of the catchment area and its inhabitants to the effects of climate change and improve the resilience of the rural population in particular. Selected measures are to be implemented by the participating stakeholders.


  • The current status of the approximately 1,000 local disaster management committees and the potential for increasing their effectiveness have been determined. The project conducted a countrywide survey for this purpose. According to this survey, many potential solutions fail time and again due to financial obstacles and organisational weaknesses in the institutions involved.
  • Legal implementation rules for the early warning system have been formulated. 
  • In Rio Búzi, a pioneering automated information system for flooding has been established together with the National Meteorology Institute, the water catchment area authority and the National Institute of Disaster Management. However, during Cyclone Idai in early 2019, it became clear that further improvements to the network-based distribution of information are necessary. All the phone networks failed during the tropical storm. 
  • The early warning committee’s many years of work and the associated disaster preparation by riverside dwellers helped saved many lives when Idai hit. 
  • For the first time, a committee for the Búzi catchment area has been anchored in Mozambican legislation. The Mozambican legislator had long been promising to establish such a committee. The institution includes representatives from all key decision-makers and water users. Various measures to improve water management have already been developed and implemented with this committee.