Mozambique: the fragile equilibrium between tourism reputation and climate hazards

Mozambique, in the south-eastern part of Africa, spreads its charms over 2 500 km of coastlines dotted with wild beaches, interspersed with lagoons, coral reefs and small islands. The Gorongosa National Park is considered as one of the top birding destinations in south-eastern Africa, as can be seen in the award-winning National Geographic documentary, Africa’s Lost Eden. At the same time Mozambique is the country most affected by climate related hazards according to the Global Climate Risk (CRI) Index, which uses data from the last 20 years.

Ponte Mozambique

 

In 2019, before COVID-19 pandemic, tourism contributed to 8.2 % of national GDP. There is a fragile equilibrium allowing Mozambique to reconstruct its reputation as a tourist destination. This reputation can be eroded due to climate change and the immense vulnerability of Mozambique to extreme climate events. In 2019 only, extreme climate events reduced GDP by 12.6 % and led to USD 4.9 billion of losses in monetary terms. This vulnerability is linked to its geographical location, its long Indian Ocean coastline and its location downstream of nine major river basins. Drought and flooding are the dichotomies representing the extreme exposure of Mozambique to climate change together with heat waves and cyclones.

As stated in Mozambique’s National Adaptation Programme of Action, increased knowledge of appropriate adaptation responses, tailored to different users, is needed to reduce climate-related risks to human life and alleviate poverty. The government is working together with international donors to reduce flooding in major cities through new infrastructure programmes.

Building Local Climate Resilience in Mozambique, an EU GCCA+-funded project, is working to reduce climate-induced vulnerability at the local/district level by supporting the implementation of concrete actions from Local Adaptation Plans. However, these actions are not enough. The frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events are growing. Isolation and restrictions imposed by COVID-19 hampered a challenging situation at the local level and increased the vulnerability of local communities that were strongly affected in 2021 by Cyclone Chalane and Eloise. UNICEF estimated that over 176 000 people in Central Mozambique were in a need of humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Eloise. Prompt, robust and continuous support to the government and Mozambique’s local communities is still required from the international community and donors. Local, regional and national stakeholders need to understand, foster and enable innovative climate-oriented solutions tailored to Mozambique’s specific situation and aimed at promoting livelihoods, ensuring food security and creating jobs.