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Soft approach of face-to-face meetings boosts water delivery planning in Maputo

In the journey that Maputo’s water takes from dam to tap, it travels through a supply chain that is managed by several different government departments and a for-profit public-private firms. This complicates day-to-day operational decisions around water service delivery. It also makes longer-term planning for a water-stressed future more difficult.

A series of stakeholder dialogues in the Mozambican capital, organised by climate scientists and geographers from southern Africa and the UK in 2017, showed the value of face-to-face meetings, and how these can smooth out some of the bureaucratic issues so that water managers can better integrate climate information into their service delivery planning in future.

Maputo Water Dialogue 23 February 2018. (Source: D. Scott)

 

One of the biggest political barriers to Maputo’s water management is the fact that there are many different stakeholders involved in decision-making processes, and there is often poor coordination between these stakeholders,’ explains environmental and geographical scientist Genito Maure, assistant professor at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo.

‘Some of the people working on Maputo’s water delivery may have the knowledge, skills, and methodology on how to do it, but don’t have the power to make decisions because those might lie with another office.’

Maure was part of a team of climate and social scientists working with FRACTAL, which held a series of consultative workshops in three southern African cities Maputo in Mozambique; Windhoek in Namibia; and Lusaka in Zambia – between 2016 and 2018. The objective was for scientists to work with municipalities to identify what each city’s burning issues are, in the context of climate change, in order to find ways to integrate climate information into long-term,  city-level planning.

Lessons from Maputo’s complex water delivery supply chain  

Climate scientists have identified water security as a key development challenge for Maputo, particularly as rising global temperatures and increasing demand for water in the growing city will impact on the amount of water feeding into the capital’s reticulation system. Planning for this kind of future uncertainty, and integrating climate information into that planning process will be key to helping Maputo adapt to climate change in the long term.

These stakeholder dialogues – called city ‘Learning Labs’ – showed up the overlapping areas of responsibility across Maputo’s water delivery system, and how these complicate daily operational decisions and impact on effective future planning around water delivery. This is according to Maure and others on the FRACTAL team, including Dr Izidine Pinto and Dr Davison Muchadenyika from the University of Cape Town, and academic Hecralito Mucavele who was working as an embedded researcher within the Maputo municipality at the time.

In the Maputo context, bulk water supply is the responsibility of the national Regional Administration of Waters in the South (ARA-Sul). The operation and management of water and sewage infrastructure is handled by the parastatal, the Water Supply Assets and Investment Fund (FIPAG). The sale of water at the tap-end of the supply chain falls in the jurisdiction of Water of the Region of Maputo (AdeM). The Council for the Regulation of Water Supply handles water pricing for the whole country, including users within the Maputo municipal area.

‘The city Learning Lab process allowed us to identify this complex supply-chain as a main political barrier to better water delivery management,’ says Maure. ‘Once we were able to do that, we could consider solutions.’

‘Stakeholders from these various water management institutions noted the importance of a ‘soft solution’ of meeting more often for face-to-face discussions so that water managers can be more receptive to climate information in future.’

The Learning Lab process served as a platform for better communication, according to the FCFA team. During these dialogues, stakeholders identified Mozambique’s Water Forum as a good platform where similar discussions can take place in future, which Mozambican officials could organise themselves with their own funding and coordination.

For more information on the three-city Learning Lab processes, in the context of what ‘receptivity’ to climate information means at a municipal level, read Receptivity and judgement: expanding ways of knowing the climate to strengthen the resilience of cities by Dianne Scott and Dr Anna Taylor.

The paper Governance Arrangements, Decision Making and Climate Change in Maputo: Preliminary Findings by Dr Davison Muchadenyika and Dr Izidine Pinto from the University of Cape Town, and Hecralito Mucavele, embedded researcher with the city of Maputo, will be available later this year.

The work reported on in this story is part of the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) research group within FCFA which aims to link city environments and climate scientists in order to support decision-makers to integrate this knowledge into climate-sensitive decisions at city-regional scale in sub-Saharan Africa.

This article was written by Leonie Joubert as part of a series covering the science produced by various FCFA projects, and introduces some of the people behind it.