For the first half-year of 2020, the Dutch embassy received formal requests for support from the authorities of Nacala, Pemba and the National Ministry of Public Works, Housing and Water of Mozambique (Ministério das Obras Públicas, Habitação e Recursos Hídricos). The requests focused on erosion, drainage, and – in the case of Pemba – sanitation.

For both cities it was requested to review previous studies on these topics, analyse the current situation and come up with recommendations. In general terms the DRR-Team agrees with the previous studies conducted for Pemba and Nacala. For the drainage and erosion in Pemba the team recommends to  fortify gullies in Mesquita de Pemba 2 and increase downstream capacity as first priority. A system of check dams is required in the gullies to control extreme discharges and erosion and the downstream capacity is to be increased to prevent flooding. For the peri-urban areas a system of open channels built in the side roads and main channels in the main roads is recommended. A reticulated stormwater system is recommended for the Cement City. The proposed location of the wastewater treatment plant by previous studies is endorsed. For Nacala the main recommendations are to fortify gully ID09 in Bacia Mocone and design a solution for downstream flash flooding as first priority, to repair the bridge to the industrial area and to construct check dams and fortifications in other areas of the city.

In order to create a solid and sustainable basis for the realisation of the recommended technical solutions the DRR-Team recommends the following generic points on a city level for both cities:

  1. Develop a masterplan covering stormwater, wastewater and drinking water systems as well as city planning for the next 25 years. Ideally also coastal protection and solid waste should be included.
  2. Set up a structured approach to increase chances of attracting funding, with Beira as an example.
  3. Start a capacity building program that includes technical, strategical, financial and operational aspects, including focus on maintenance and operations of future water infrastructure.
  4. Develop a city wide detailed Digital Terrain Model (DTM) for future design efforts in the city

The mobilised DRR-Team led by team leader Rutger Perdon (RHDHV) spent parts of 2020 and 2021 – starting in September 2020 – providing remote support for Pemba and Nacala. The support included:

  • a review of previous studies from the World Bank and various German and French companies,
  • field validation of findings through a local expert, and
  • two virtual workshop sessions of half a day with relevant stakeholders from the two cities to verify assumptions and context. These included National and Municipal authorities in charge of water-related issues in the broadest variety of disciplines, ranging from infrastructure, water, and environment, to planning and operations.

The team included a data analyst (Joana Vieira da Silva, KV), an erosion and drainage expert (Romano Wannyn, Witteveen+Bos) and a sanitation specialist (Arrien Borst, Arcadis). Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the DRR-Team could not travel to the region.

“In reality, the outcome is not structurally different between a physical and a remote mission, but the timeline slows down tremendously. If we could have conducted this mission in person, we probably could have done it in two months. Now, the overall mission took close to a year. One of the biggest challenges is the local data collection. All authorities say they have the data, but getting your hands on it without being locally present is  very challenging, ” according to team leader Rutger.

The Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, of which Pemba is the capital, has been in international news for all the wrong reasons recently, with militant forces combatting government security troops. Despite the unrest, and all the underlying social, economic and political unrest, the conflict is also taking a heavy toll on Pemba’s abilities to handle the enormous influx of Internally Displaced Persons into the city. The exponential growth of the city is putting increased pressure on its resources. The growth causes extra needs for drinking water and leads to an increased wastewater flow. Also, it leads to erosion and drainage issues due to more impermeable surfaces and informal settlements in the natural drainage channels. Plus, the city authorities are so preoccupied with other societal challenges that water is moving into the background in terms of political priorities.

This is the context in which the DRR-Team attempted to provide meaningful contributions to the water-related challenges in Pemba and Nacala. And to remind ourselves of the conditions under which we operate. “We brought our own internet to the meetings to make them happen”, explains Rutger. “Just to create a stable connection and allow for these valuable exchanges. It is about providing as much hands-on knowledge as possible because, with current capacities available, no projects are getting off the ground.”

The good news is that IFI’s have a significant interest in immediate action. The European Investment Bank (EIB) already has a project in the works for Pemba, for which it is very likely that the results of the DRR-Team mission will be put to use. DRR-Team, and the embassy in Maputo have been in close contact with EIB from the start of the study to ensure a good connection with the needs and planning of the Technical Assistance for the Mozambique Climate Resilience Framework Loan.

For more information about this DRR-Team mission, please read the DRR-Team Mission Report on Pemba and Nacala, Mozambique.