Environment Mainstreaming and Adaptation to Climate Change

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Continued climatic uncertainty, extreme weather events and endemic poverty continue to be a serious challenge in this country of 23 million people, which is already one of the poorest in the world. Remote areas like the district of Chicualacuala are frequently hit by floods and then by drought with little contingency planning, lack of risk analysis and enormous catastrophe, including loss of lives and livelihoods.

Indeed, Mozambique’s unpredictable climate manifests in frequent extreme weather events. Between 2000 and 2009 alone, the country suffered from six droughts and 15 floods. The droughts impacted the lives of over 3.2 million people, whereas the floods affected over six million people.

In 2010, the country was hit by both droughts and floods. The double shock left 465,000 people in need of food assistance and wiped out 30% of cultivated land to the extent that food insecurity has become a norm in a country that already had a 37% undernourishment rate.

The UN Joint Programme was the first of its kind in Mozambique that specifically addressed these climate change issues. It was designed at a time when climate change was neither understood nor integrated into the Government’s planning mechanism.


The objective of the Joint Programme was to support the Government’s efforts towards sustainable development through implementation of two components: environmental mainstreaming and adaptation to climate change.

However, there were some challenges to overcome. For example, a lack of background data on climate change, coping strategies and livelihoods in the Limpopo River Basin necessitated several baseline studies in order to identify and effectively plan the implementation strategy.

The UN agencies worked closely with the Government and rural community partners to carry out a series of actions designed to inform, sensitize and strengthen capacity in the planning and implementation of climate change adaptation activities which included environmental awareness raising and training, water resources development, agriculture, livestock and forest management and the introduction of renewable energies.


  • The Government, civil society, local communities and other stakeholders were informed, sensitized and empowered on the environment and climate change issues. The result has been that for the first time in Mozambique, environment and climate change have become cross-cutting themes that are now being built into plans and policies.
  • The Government’s capacity at central and decentralized levels to implement existing environmental policies was strengthened.
  • A risk mapping exercise identified the areas most vulnerable to droughts and flooding and defined the risk levels, including the delimination of risk levels and the impact on the communities. This was followed by the identification of adaptation strategies that could be integrated into local policies and plans.
  • A climate proofing methodology was mainstreamed into the Government’s development plans.
  • The local community’s coping mechanisms to climate change were strengthened and their livelihood options were diversified. Interventions included, for example, the construction of rainwater harvesting tanks, the introduction of integrated fish farming and the rehabilitation and equipping of a meteorological station.


  • There was a challenge for coordinating the work of multiple UN agencies and governmental partners in the implementation of numerous activities;
  • The project took place in a remote district with poor roads and communication hence making access very challenging;
  • The UN administrative procedures, especially on procurement, did not facilitate smooth implementation of the Joint Programme;
  • The design of the Joint Programme had flaws that led to implementation delays and complicated coordination.

Way Forward

The best practices and lessons learned are being consolidated at the district level. Follow-up programmes are being developed based on a scaling up of best practices in ecologically similar regions in Mozambique.

Read more about this JP on the MDG-F website.

Lessons Learnt

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