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December 2004

Announcement of a new publication

The role of local institutions in reducing vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters and in sustainable livelihoods development

Assessing the Role of Local Institutions in Reducing the Vulnerability of At-Risk Communities in Búzi, Central Mozambique

by Zefanias Matsimbe
Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme
University of Cape Town, South Africa


From December 1999 to March 2000, Mozambique recorded the highest rainfall rates since 1951. They were associated with twelve meteorological systems, and triggered massive flooding in the southern and central regions of the country, with disastrous consequences, including human, physical and economic losses. This event, reported as a ‘flood event’, with more people affected by flooding than directly by the rain, had a considerable affect on the livelihoods of over a million people. The heavy rains in other southern African countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland, caused in part by the cyclones Connie and Eline, were precursors to the flooding in Mozambique. Neighbouring countries were forced to open their dams, resulting in excessive volumes of water entering the Mozambique catchment areas.

The Búzi catchment in central Mozambique was one of those affected by waters released from the Chicamba Dam, causing rising levels in the Búzi River, with consequent flooding. This helps explain why floods in that area occurred some days after the cyclones had passed. Most communities in Búzi Province were declared disaster-affected.

With limited resources to respond to such an event, the Mozambique government was forced to seek assistance from the international community. They launched two international appeals, which resulted in aid being supplied for both evacuation and rehabilitation.

This study aims at understanding the role of local institutions and organisations in reducing people’s vulnerability to natural hazards. It was based in Búzi District, where two villages, namely Munamícua and Boca, were selected for the fieldwork. Both sites still reflect the impact of the events of 2000 in the highly vulnerable livelihoods of their households. The research methodology involved multidisciplinary methods and techniques. Data was gathered from a number of institutions before the fieldwork was conducted.

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