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Institutional assessment

3.1 The changing role of disaster-risk related institutions after the 2000 event

The 2000 flood event presented an opportunity for the Mozambican government to develop a new strategy for managing ‘disaster’ events and for better coordination of operations within government and between the government and other organisations such as the United Nations, international agencies, NGOs and civil society. A benefit of assessing these changes, made in the context of the 2000 event, three years later was that the changes could be mapped at national, provincial and district level. Furthermore, the changing roles of the UN, international agencies and NGOs in the light of these policy developments could be assessed. In Part 3 of this report, the changing roles of the Mozambican government and disaster-risk management related agencies will be assessed, providing insight into how the 2000 event presented this opportunity for institutional change.

3.2 National level

The national institutional response to the 2000 event was centred largely on the coordination of international agencies, as resources to initiate an emergency response and relief operation were limited. This coordination was not efficient, as many agencies acted independently from the Mozambican government. After the 2000 event, the Mozambique government developed a new strategy to ensure better coordination for prevention of, mitigation of and response to future similar events. The government saw that it was time to redefine its role and improve its multi-sectoral coordination role.

This strategy involved the strengthening of the three national-level state organs falling under the National Policy for Disaster management. These are the National Board for the Coordination of Disaster management (CCGC), the Technical Council for Disaster Management (CTGC) and the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC).


The CCGC, operating at national, provincial and district levels, is headed by the Prime Minister, and integrates input from NGOs, the UN and civil society. This board meets monthly or, in an emergency, more regularly. Its main role is to ensure better coordination of emergency operations.


The CTGC is a technical multi-sectoral organ reporting directly to the national government. It is comprised of technicians representing all the state ministries, especially the departments working on natural hazards, for coordinating emergency operations. The UN, NGOs and representatives of civil society are on its board. This board is divided into seven working groups, namely (i) coordination, (ii) early warning, (iii) sensitisation of people for disaster management and risk reduction, (iv) rescue and evacuation, (v) logistic, (vi) shelter, water and sanitation, and (vii) food security and agriculture. In terms of division of roles each working group is responsible for designing operational plans, simplified instructions and procedures to ensure flexible actions towards effective assistance to affected people. Important measures to be taken include the releasing of some migration and customs rules to facilitate the movement of humanitarian assistance and people to help the victims of a disaster.


The INGC is the third organ established at national level, but has branches in all ten provinces and in some districts. In the districts without INGC branches it is replaced by a district emergency committee, which integrates the work of all locally represented state ministries, for multi-sectoral coordination for prevention, mitigation and response for disasters. This is the case in Búzi District. The INGC is responsible for the development of a contingency plan at national and provincial levels. Each one of the ten has its own contingency plan based on multi-sectoral information and according to the kind of the disaster likely to occur in the province. This contingency plan is a document containing strategic guidelines for disaster prevention and mitigation. It also identifies necessary and available resources for immediate response in case of an emergency. Although important tools for disasters management, the nature of contingency plans has been criticised because they are based on generalized information from national or provincial levels, which does not reflect the reality at the local level,. It is therefore problematic at the local level to address the real needs of the affected by disasters, most of them living in rural communities. The discourse has been that provincial contingency plans must be based on information from the districts and different government sectors. Taking into consideration the Mozambican reality, characterized by poor mechanisms of communication and dissemination of information, the level of province seems to be very high to design effective contingency plans because there is no means for collecting accurate and up to date data that reflects the situation on the ground. Our experience showed that even the district authorities in Búzi are not aware of the content of the provincial plan, making it difficult to work collaboratively with the provincial authorities.

The actions to be taken are designed together with the UN, NGOs, donors, local authorities and civil society. At national level these members have annual meetings where each sector presents developed and planned activities, and assesses sectoral capacity for intervention in case of emergency.

Box 4: Main points from the meeting between the government and its partners (see below)

(i) A senior member of the Mozambican Health Department condemned the current natural hazard management strategy since it was based on relief rather than on prevention. In addition, he emphasised that the relief given by the government and other organisations arrives too late for affected households.

(ii) The Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs (chairperson of the meeting) also condemned the current response to natural hazards and appealed for preventive action, saying: "We do not want to wait until spectacular images are displayed on TV to take action. That is not good. We should be working at local level before an event occurs. We have to work with a long-term perspective. To make the country more resilient to natural hazards we have to work on small and modest activities to help the community be more resilient in order to avoid responding always to an emergency situation. We have to be proactive; it will be easier for us because we have the basic data to work toward prevention, because we know about each hazard before it happens...We also need to be very careful about issuing an appeal now, just to avoid [being seen as having] a culture of mendicity[22] and dependency on external aid."

(iii) The UN, represented by the UN Disaster Management Technical Group, defended the need for a shift in disaster management approach from sectoral to more integrated actions based on information-sharing between NGOs, the UN, government, donors, the private sector and civil society. The UN supported the strengthening of partnerships in disaster management and stressed the need for mapping humanitarian responses in case of emergency.

In late April 2003, a meeting between the government[23], the UN, NGOs and donors took place in Maputo to evaluate the progress of each sector towards the reduction of community vulnerability to natural hazards. At the meeting, entitled "Preliminary Assessment of the Emergency Situation 2002/2003" each sector presented its progress report and planned actions regarding disaster risk management. During the meeting, three important aspects were discussed in depth (as shown in the box above).

3.3 Provincial level

At the national level there is an apparently good indication of the governments’ engagement in disaster risk management through the coordination of different state departments, the UN, NGOs and even the private sector. However at a provincial level this changes substantially as the provincial board or committee representing the Technical Council for Disaster Management (CTGC), which combines input from all provincial government departments, has a rather tenuous existence and questioned functionality. The committee works within and is led by the INGC, but has no regular meetings to discuss mechanisms of prevention, mitigation and response for disasters resulting from natural events. According to a senior member of the committee interviewed in Beira, this commission meets regularly immediately before the season known for the occurrence of natural hazards[24] and ceases its activities as soon as the threat is over. According to our interviewer, the lack of financial and material resources forces this committee to work only intermittently and without being able to implement sound prevention programmes or projects that would help communities to decrease their vulnerability to future hazards. The provincial department of INGC believes that only coordinated work between different government departments, NGOs and civil society can prevent future losses.

Preventive measures and initiatives for strengthening community capacity to withstand natural hazards are apparently still limited, especially as regards implementation. Most provincial departments are facing serious financial shortages that do not even allow them to implement their current activities. Our general perception was that disaster risk management is still a secondary priority and not well integrated into governmental development plans or programmes. In addition, integrating the disaster committee into other state departments is problematic due to the double subordination of the committee members who have to report simultaneously to their corresponding provincial departments (that they are presenting within the committee) and also to this committee as a provincial coordinating body. What happens is that these state departments represented in this committee end up receiving two commands or orientations, which sometimes contradict each other; one is from the provincial department representing and another one from the coordinating committee. These situations make it difficult to these representatives and to the committee itself to work efficiently.

This problem of double subordination is reproduced at district level as well. The provincial authorities appointed for resource allocation in natural hazard management considered double subordination as a constraint. Because of the centralisation of Mozambican public administration, some departments working at local level (for example, the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development, working in agricultural development and food security) do not coordinate with corresponding provincial departments.

At the provincial, district and local community levels, the presence of other organisations, including the UN[25], working on disasters is limited. Some of these organisations worked only during the emergency, with their activities ceasing soon afterwards. Búzi is, however, an exception, with the Red Cross, the GTZ and some NGOs still doing extensive work on disaster risk management within the local communities.

3.4 District level

In Búzi the INGC has no representation, resulting in the local administration having created a district emergency committee, composed local representatives of all the ministries, maritime authorities, police and NGOs. The role of this committee includes the activities shown in the box below.

Box 5: The role of the district emergency committee

- coordination of evacuation procedures;

- supervision of the affected areas during the time of emergency;

- pre-evaluation of the situation after the event (especially floods) to see if conditions are suitable for households to return. If this is not possible, people are required to choose a safer zone where they can build their houses, while continuing their farming activities in the lower area;

- post-disaster assessments (each administrative sector assesses the damages caused in its sector).

The coordination between district and provincial authorities is considered to fully be operational, with district authorities providing information on disasters to the provincial authorities, who in return provide assistance when needed.

In the Búzi administrative headquarters, the team was informed that a Búzi Basin Management Committee had been launched in 2001. This committee marked the limits of the river flooding in 2000, to be used as an indicator of flooding severity. This committee coordinates with the Chicamba Dam for efficient water management, in an attempt to avoid future disasters in the Búzi basin.

3.5 The role of the UN in coordinating a strategy for disaster management in Mozambique

The role of the United Nations in reducing community vulnerability to natural hazards was clearly visible at national level, with the UN acting as the main partner of the government in disaster management. Three UN organisations (UNDP, FAO, and UNICEF) were visited by this project’s researchers and some interviews conducted, to understand the role of the UN and their mechanisms of intra- and inter-institutional coordination. In the late 1980s, the UN formed, under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), a coordinated strategy for disaster management in accord with the Mozambique government. This agreement aimed to assist and enable the Government of Mozambique to:

- manage disasters effectively through preventive measures designed to mitigate the threat and impact of future disasters;

- increase preparedness in the form of preparedness plans, regulations, and resources for effective and efficient disaster response; and

- provide a timely response to the affected population when disaster strikes, to reduce loss of life (PNUD, 1998)

The UN also assisted the government to:

(i) prepare a national disaster management policy and complementary legislation,
(ii) establish a disaster management information system to inform decision-making, and
(iii) implement the disaster management plan.

Some UN agencies sponsored and supported the insertion of a disaster management component in the plans of their counterpart ministries, and they provide technical support in important activities to sustain the global strategy for disaster management. For example, UNICEF provides technical support in the area of water and sanitation; the FAO in food security; WHO in epidemiological surveillance, and the UNHCR and WFP in strengthening regional linkages in disaster management (PNUD, 1998) - especially with those SADC countries with which Mozambique shares river waters. The UNDP worked particularly for the creation of the INGC and has allocated experts to the INGC to work on institutional capacity building. A mini-office within the INGC has been established for better coordination of activities related to disaster risk management. To ensure good coordination between UN members, a UN Disaster Management Theme Group, composed of focal points from each agency (including the World Bank), has been created.

[22] begging.
[23] Government Institutions represented included: INAM (National Institute for Weather Forecasting), DNA (National Directorate for Water Management as part of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing), MADER (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trading and the INGC.
[24] This period, with some variation, coincides with the wet and hot period from October to April. In this period the probability of cyclones and high rainfall occurring is high, resulting in floods.
[25] The UN generally works in coordination with local NGOs.

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