Climate change is causing coastal erosion and periodic flooding in Maputo, endangering scenic coastal roadways and causing saltwater intrusion, wind erosion, and desertification in urban food-producing areas; flooding in coastal slum areas; degradation of water quality in wells and potable water scarcity; and the destruction of mangroves and threats to the locally important shrimp fishery. There are clear signs that the sea level is rising, with concomitant expensive coastal management problems. The United Nations Habitat Cities in Climate Change Initiative emphasizes local government capacity-building, policy dialogue, climate change awareness, public education, and developing coordination mechanisms between all levels of government as priorities to help address these risks. Mozambique’s national water law (1991) considers all water as state-owned, to be governed by the state for the benefit of the population, with water access for people, sustainability, and stakeholder participation as priorities. Four water basin committees have been established in Mozambique on the same general model as in Brazil. To make this participatory model more effective, the largest need is for capacity-building and community organizing to deepen and strengthen civil society’s involvement in water governance. As Mozambique’s capital, largest and densest city, and the home of the main university in the country, Maputo has a key role to play in setting the standard for progressive urban governance and water management.
Justiça Ambiental (JA)
JA!, which means Now! in English, works very closely with communities on environmental issues such as the cutting down of forests, pollution, dams, oil exploration and people’s access to clean water.
They view environmental justice as the act of using the environment as a vehicle for ensuring equity and equality across society. In support of sustainable development they try to view the concept of equality at a grand scale, and as such, value the rights of future generations to a healthy and safe environment. Their mission is to engender a culture of civil action in Mozambique both through actions to protect the environment and by actively engaging in developmental decisions relating to issues of environmental justice in Mozambique and throughout the world. They are committed to free rivers and clean water for all, environmental law and policy monitoring, promotion of renewable energies and a toxic free environment.
JA! raises public awareness and campaigns against damaging environmental practices in Mozambique. They focus on providing current information through research and support to communities faced with environmental/social threats and aim to build community awareness and solidarity between communities. They support communities by providing strategic assistance, technical advice and information and seek to build the community voice by:
- facilitating links between communities faced with similar environmental problems;
- supporting community campaigns including negotiations with industry, access to government decision makers/officials, and access to the media;
- linking communities with national and international campaigns.
Support to communities is conceived as contributing to democratic environmental governance. Governance involves all the main stakeholders – government, industry, labour, academics and citizens – and is determined by power relations and the distribution of resources that enable or disable effective participation in decision-making. The instruments of governance include policies, laws and regulatory regimes, industrial practices, as well as research and community advocacy. JA! will advocate directly in support of the principles of sustainable development and environmental justice.
MuGeDe (Women, Gender and Development)
MUGEDE (Women, Gender and Development) is a non-profit civil society organization which was established in Mozambique in 2004. Its mission is to develop active citizenship for the preservation of environmental values, for rural development and the promotion of gender equality driven by justice, tolerance, solidarity and equity.
MUGEDE is based in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, and it also operates in several other provinces of the country. Its activists are women and young adults who have received formal and informal environmental education.
Keeping Mozambique’s vulnerability to climate change in mind, MUGEDE develops activities to educate civil society, especially women, in how to care for the environment to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change.