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National Adaptation Plans in focus: Lessons from Mozambique

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Located on the eastern coast of southern Africa, the Republic of Mozambique has the third-longest coastline on the African continent. Its 2,770 kilometres long coast is home to about 60 percent of its 29.5 million people and hosts critical ecosystems, such as mangroves, reefs, bays, and dunes, amongst others. The rest of the country is primarily dominated by savannah and secondary forests. Mozambique borders Tanzania to its north, Malawi and Zambia to its north-west, Zimbabwe to its west, and South Africa and Eswatini to its south. Its coastline faces Madagascar to its east. Four of its six neighbouring countries are landlocked, providing Mozambique with potential strategic economic benefits as a conduit for those countries to global markets. Mozambique’s youth is rapidly growing, with around 45 percent of its population being under the age of 15. While this presents the country with a relatively large potential pool of labour, weak economic opportunities resulting from multiple development challenges, including widespread poverty, gaps in the education system, low life expectancy, and high mortality rates, hamper Mozambique from benefitting from this vital economic resource. Mozambique mostly depends on rain-fed agriculture for subsistence and export gains. In 2019, 71.3 percent of the country’s total workforce was employed in the agriculture sector, which together with the forestry and fishery sector, contributes to around 24.5 percent (2018) of its national Gross Domestic Product.

Climate change risks

Mozambique is severely afected by climate-induced disasters. Over the past two decades, the country experienced an increase in extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, which are projected to become only more frequent and intense in the future. The socio-economic implications of past events have been significant in many cases. In 2016, the worst droughts in 35 years associated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation caused severe crop failure and the death of livestock of thousands of farmers. The implications for the country’s food security were tremendous, decreasing overall food availability by 15 percent. These difculties were further exacerbated by the tropical cyclone Dineo that hit Mozambique in February 2017. According to the government, approximately 550,000 people were afected, and more than 33,000 homes were completely destroyed. In 2019, in short sequence, two cyclones made landfall in March and April. In Mozambique alone, cyclone Idai killed more than 600 people and left an estimated 1.85 million people in need. Cyclone Kenneth was the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit the African continent and left about 374,000 people in need. Together, the two 2019 cyclones caused damages and losses in the country amounting to an estimated US$3 billion.