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By : Mathias Spaliviero

Due to its location, Mozambique suffers from cyclical flooding associated with heavy rains and cyclones. In recent years, extreme flood events affected millions of people, disrupting the economic recovery process that followed the peace agreement in 1992. Despite this natural threat, most of the population continues to live in flood prone areas both in rural environment, due to the dependency on agricultural activities, and in urban environment, since unsafe zones are often the only affordable option for new settlers. This paper presents a brief analytical review on different issues related with urban informal settlements, or slums, based on different project activities developed by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Mozambique. The aim is to identify applicable strategies to reduce vulnerability in urban slums, where approximately 70 percent of the urban population live. The implemented project activities target different organisational levels in an integrated manner, seeking for active involvement of the Government, local authorities and communities at each implementation stage, from decision-making to practical implementation. They consist of three main components: 1) supporting policy-making in order to ensure sustainable urban development, 2) delivering a comprehensive training and capacity building based on the mainstreaming concept of "Learning How to Live with Floods" as valid alternative to resettlement, and 3) facilitating participatory land use planning coupled with physical upgrading interventions at the local level. In the long-term, the intention of UN-HABITAT is to progressively focus on community-based slum upgrading and vulnerability reduction activities, coordinated by local authorities and actively monitored by central institutions, in improving and managing basic services and infrastructures (i.e. water supply, drainage, sanitation, waste management, road network, etc). This type of bottom-up experiences should then represent a basis for setting up a slum upgrading intervention strategy to be applied at the national level.
Keywords : Slum Upgrading, Vulnerability Reduction, Floods, Participatory Approach, Mozambique

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