‘The writing is on the wall’. This painting captures the essence of the Radio Municipal Khindlimuka

UN-Habitat builds urban resilience in Mozambican towns

September 29, 2023 , 03:18 pm

DiMSUR, AF, Mozambique

Chokwe, 27 September 2023 – Andre Mugabe looks every inch a radio man. Add to this his booming voice and affable manner and he quickly becomes someone people want to trust. This comes in handy when Andre is on air at Radio Municipal Khindlimuka, which broadcasts warnings of impending disasters like cyclones or floods to the residents of Chokwe, Mozambique, and its environs. 
“Many of our listeners have come to trust the information we give them especially on such disasters. It gives me a lot of joy when I see people make serious decisions like moving whenever there is an impending disaster because this means lives saved,” the veteran broadcaster says during an interview at the radio station. 
Radio Municipal Khindmulika – “Khindmulika” meaning “wake up” in the local Changana language – plays a vital role as an Early Warning System, one of the components of the “Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-East Africa” project funded by the Adaptation Fund and executed by UN-Habitat, in partnership with four national governments – Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Comoros – Oxfam, and the Regional Centre of Excellence on Disaster Risk Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience (DiSMUR). 
The radio station serves to reinforce the capacity of local authorities to anticipate extreme events and prevent ensuing damages and losses. The station, rehabilitated using resilient building codes, will also serve as a vehicle for sharing public knowledge and raising awareness of solid waste practices once solid waste treatment centres are installed in town. 
Chokwe, situated in the Limpopo River basin, is vulnerable to floods and cyclones and witnessed some of the worst deluges of the 21st century in 2000, 2010 and 2013.
Regina Chauque, the social welfare officer with the Chokwe Municipal Council and a native of the town, has seen first-hand the devastation caused by floods to her neighbours and friends. “The devastating floods leave serious destruction and deaths in their wake. The worst I ever saw was in 2000 when I saw people I know lose their lives. I am therefore very happy that there are proposed safe havens in this project, with an emphasis on the disabled,” she says. 
The municipal project focal point, Bartolomeu Chauque, is also passionate about his work. A soft-spoken person who was born and bred in Chokwe, Chauque says that the drainage system in the works will once and for all solve the problem of flooding. “I am sure flooding will be a thing of the past,” the engineer says. 
The project intends to improve the resilience of the urban environment by implementing integrated climate resilient interventions including resilient infrastructures such as improving the drainage system capacity, improving solid waste management systems, and establishing a local Early Warning System – the radio station. 
National Project Officer Marcia Guambe of UN-Habitat explains: “To address the issue of recurrent floods in the city, the project is strengthening the hydraulic capacity of the main drainage channel as well as rehabilitating the damaged sets of the drainage in the most critical neighbourhoods. The project will also work on the maintenance of the main drainage channels, together with the local communities.” 
Alongside the drainage maintenance works, the project will also improve solid waste management in the town, so that drainages are not blocked with waste. Two solid waste treatment centres will be constructed together with the establishment of waste collection sites in the town, which will help citizens adopt better solid waste management practices. 
The head of the UN-Habitat country office Sandra Roque explains: “Mozambique faces increasingly frequent natural disasters and its heavy impacts. These recurrent disasters have cumulative impact which affects the population’s resilience and the country’s development, and access to infrastructure services are lost or weakened.”
She highlights that the Chokwe project dovetailed with the Habitat Country Programme Document of Mozambique which is anchored on three interconnected and mutually reinforcing programmatic pillars: Climate resilience and Building Back Better; Inclusive area-based socioeconomic development and stability; and Urban policies and sustainable human settlements.
Israel Muba, a monitoring, evaluation and learning officer with Oxfam says the partnership that his organization has forged with UN-Habitat is worth emulating. “The house-to-house consultations before the project kicked off enabled us to be aware of the problems the locals were facing. This made the work easier when we finally hit the ground running,” he says. 
But what about the community? 68 year old Joanna Chongo is optimistic that the proposed safe havens will be a panacea for those who had to contend with not so user-friendly shelters in the past. “I am happy that they are addressing the issue of access by the disabled and separate sanitary spaces for men and women,” says the mother of four. 
Four cities with different types of vulnerabilities have been selected to implement pilot climate adaptation projects following a participatory approach, namely: Morondava, Madagascar; Zomba, Malawi; Chokwe, Mozambique; and Moroni, Comoros.


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