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

Submitted by Michael Rastall 29th May 2014 11:48


With an estimated population of 1.1 million, Maputo is the most densely populated city in Mozambique. The city is sharply divided into two areas: ’the cement city’, or the old colonial centre with paved roads and high-rise buildings, and the bairros – largely underserved, congested areas that house the majority of the city’s population. Situated on the Indian Ocean, the city is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as cyclones, flooding and sea level rise. Poverty and inequality, which are concentrated in the bairros, further exacerbate climate change vulnerabilities in the city.

This report, A local vision of climate adaptation: Participatory urban planning in Mozambique, by Vanesa Castán Broto of University College London, 
Emily Boyd of the University of Reading, Jonathan Ensor of the University of York, Domingos Augusto Macucule of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and Charlotte Allen, an independent consultant, looks at the outcomes of the project, Public Private People Partnerships for Climate Compatible Development (4PCCD). It ran from 2011 to 2013 and asked: can local views be represented fairly in national and municipal planning processes through a partnership approach?

Answering this question required: i) understanding what makes a successful partnership among relevant actors; ii) providing a platform to support such a partnership; iii) developing formal outputs, such as local development and climate change action plans; and iv) disseminating the lessons widely to bring new partners into the process. By experimenting with different forms of participatory planning, 4PCCD aimed to identify local priorities for climate-related action, along with the key actors and resources needed to make it happen.

Key messages

  • The Public Private People Partnerships for Climate Compatible Development (4PCCD) project
 used an urban planning tool that recognises the capacity of citizens living in informal settlements in Maputo, Mozambique, to develop
 a vision for the future of their neighbourhood in a changing climate.
  • A participatory planning process empowered citizens to develop a collective vision and present it to government institutions and private firms in Maputo.
  • 4PCCD also created opportunities for dialogue among government institutions, businesses and communities, both in informal meetings and public forums.
  • The project showed that municipalities can speed up climate policy development by inviting local communities to share their experiences and knowledge.
  • The project also highlighted that participatory planning needs sufficient allocation of time and money in order to undertake meaningful community consultation and a detailed scientific assessment of climate impacts.


This project demonstrates that local residents in Chamanculo C, and perhaps Maputo, are responsive to and are able to take a leading role in a participatory planning approach. Lending each citizen a voice is essential to harnessing the potential of local communities: both to engage with climate change information and to catalyse action for climate change. They can do so by incorporating climate change concerns into local development priorities. While conflicts between development, mitigation and adaptation priorities may seem irreconcilable in an abstract setting, communities are able to formulate practical and feasible options which negotiate and even resolve such trade-offs. By addressing a key development priority of improving sanitation with a raised awareness of the potential risks posed by climate change, residents of Chamanculo C are reducing their vulnerability to its impacts. 

Local communities are capable of organising themselves to work towards collective action; engaging with climate information, uncertainties and futures when these relate to their daily experiences; and putting forward sensible proposals for development that directly tackle climate change vulnerabilities. The 4PPCD project also demonstrates that governmental institutions and the private sector 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.