Last updated on
Minister Caroline Gennez addresses listeners of radio Ke Ndlemuka. This local radio will inform the public in case of an imminent climate disaster (© FPS Foreign affairs).
Vulnerable without having done much to cause the problem
In the Global South, climate disruption is having a major impact. Mozambique, for example, is among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to our changing climate. It is already suffering devastating cyclones, floods and drought on a regular basis. Very recently - in February and March this year – Cyclone Freddy raged over Mozambique. Having lasted 52 days, it is the longest cyclone since records began.
However, on the list of countries with the largest greenhouse gas emissions, Mozambique only ranks 174 out of 188 countries. Its emissions represent only 0.06% of the world total. It is therefore a legitimate demand from vulnerable countries like Mozambique that countries whose large greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change should come up with funding to help them become more resilient to the climate crisis. Belgium is already making efforts to increase the funding it provides to address climate-related issues.
Minister Caroline Gennez addresses the press after the signing of the new cooperation programme. On the far right, Mozambique's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Verónica Macamo (© FPS Foreign affairs).
550,000 people to benefit
In June 2023, the Minister for Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez travelled to the African country to launch the brand new cooperation programme dedicated entirely to the fight against climate disruption. On arrival in Mozambique, she received a warm welcome and held extensive discussions with the three ministers involved.
From 2023 to 2028, our country will invest 25 million euros in Mozambique, especially in the province of Gaza. Around 550,000 people will benefit from the various projects that will encompass all aspects of the fight against climate disruption.
- The Belgian development agency, Enabel, for example, will be working with the Mozambican government to fine-tune an equitable green energy transition. Some 12,000 people will gain access to solar power. This will allow Mozambicans to reduce their use of fossil fuels and emit less greenhouse gases (= mitigation).
- Helping local people adapt to the unavoidable, negative impacts of climate disruption, such as drought (= adaptation) is also imperative. We will therefore improve the irrigation systems of about 3,500 people – based on solar energy – so they can irrigate their fields more efficiently.
Enabel had in any case already installed a series of water pumps in Gaza that are also powered by electricity obtained from solar panels. After all, most residents there do not have access to a (reliable) power grid. In places where there was no useable groundwater, Enabel installed desalination units powered by solar panels. Access to drinking water has already made life much more comfortable for 55,000 people and their livestock.
- Waste management and a circular economy will also receive a great deal of attention. Waste needs to be skilfully managed and also reused and recycled as much as possible. Enabel will play its part in the construction of recycling units in 2 provinces. The Mozambican government wants to ensure at least one properly managed waste disposal site per province.
- ‘Loss and damage’ will also be addressed and is a topic that gets a lot of attention at climate summits. After all, poorer, vulnerable countries expect to receive support for the loss and damage they are suffering as a result of the climate disruption mainly caused by rich countries. The programme with Mozambique has earmarked 2.5 million euros for a number of pilot projects aiming to address loss and damage.
Partly in collaboration with the Mozambican Disaster Institute, systems will be set up to alert the population whenever a climate disaster such as a cyclone is approaching. Shelter facilities will also be built and attention will be paid to protecting critical infrastructure such as water and electricity supplies.
During the ministerial mission, this was illustrated by the visit to a local radio station (Ke Ndlemuka = wake up). Ke Ndlemuka plays a key role in such an early warning system by providing timely information to the public whenever climate disasters such as cyclones or floods are imminent, but also by spreading knowledge on how to avoid malaria and cholera after floods. In case of an impending disaster, residents can also take refuge in a higher-lying emergency shelter (under construction).
In Mozambique, Belgium is also delivering a first in the area of debt rescheduling, by implementing a ‘debt-for-climate swap’. Just under half of Mozambique's outstanding debt to our country – 2.5 million euros – will be forgiven in exchange for investments in climate projects.
- The programme will also assist the government of Mozambique to mobilise sufficient climate funding to implement the country's climate plans and put it on the path towards a climate-robust low-carbon economy.
Among other things, the delegation visited a desalination plant installed by Enabel (© FPS Foreign affairs).
International institutions and NGOs
Our country also assists Mozambique by means of multilateral organisations and its NGOs. The visits made by Minister Gennez during the ministerial mission trip illustrate how comprehensive our approach towards Mozambique's climate problem is.
- Belgium is supporting the SOFF, the funding facility for systematic weather observation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. The SOFF forms part of an initiative by the UN Secretary General António Guterres that seeks to install early warning systems worldwide (Early Warning Systems for All). In order to achieve that, it is investing in new meteorological observation stations, including at high altitude, in 26 countries, including Mozambique. The stations themselves operate largely digitally.
In this way, the SOFF is aiming to fill in the gaps in our observation of climate patterns worldwide. The Minister made a visit to the National Meteorological Institute – the equivalent of Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute – which will focus even more closely on weather forecasting as a means of helping the population react appropriately in extreme weather conditions.
- Also on the Minister's itinerary was the Mozal aluminium smelting company, which is the largest employer in Mozambique. The aluminium sector accounts for 13% of Mozambique's GDP. A significant portion of its aluminium bar exports go to the EU, so far free of import taxes. However, in order to reduce its carbon emissions, the EU has developed a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), by means of which it intends to impose a carbon tax on the industries that emit the most CO2, such as the iron, artificial fertiliser, cement and aluminium industries. Essentially, from 2026 onwards, importers of finished products into the EU will have to pay a carbon tax on the carbon emissions of their imports, unless it has already been paid in the country of production. A transition period will apply from October 2023 to the end of 2025.
For Minister Gennez, one of the purposes of her visit was to understand the potential impact the CBAM may have on Mozal. To decarbonise its operations, the company will have to rely heavily on renewable energy. Belgium is keen to help industry in the least developed countries to turn this into reality. We are also pushing for the private sector and investment banks in the EU to support the transition to renewable energy in those countries – including Mozambique.
- With LoCAL (Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility)), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) aims to make local communities and economies more resilient to climate disruption. For its projects in Mozambique, UNCDF-LoCAL will receive 4.8 million euros from our country. The Minister visited a newly built high school (1329 students, 18 teachers) that is able to withstand extreme climate conditions. For example, the school has a cyclone-resistant roof and windows, provision for water collection has been included and it was built higher up than the surrounding area to protect against flooding and so on.
The support provided by Belgium ultimately had a snowball effect, as it caused other countries to become involved. Right now, LoCAL is already reaching 3 million people, just under 10% of Mozambique's population.
- The Belgian NGO FOS demonstrated a sustainable horticultural field that is quite resilient to climate disruption.
‘We must do it together’
Belgian aid is helping Mozambique on a variety of fronts, not only to arm itself against the consequences of climate disruption, but also to reduce its contribution to that disruption as much as possible. It is already encouraging to note that the measures taken so far are really helping. For example, the number of casualties and the amount of damage that occurred during the otherwise extremely severe cyclone Freddy were lower than during the previous cyclones Idai and Kenneth.
The cooperation programme will also offer Mozambique the opportunity to bring in additional funding from elsewhere. For example, Enabel will help Mozambique to prepare itself to receive funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the UN climate fund. All activities fit perfectly with the ambitious climate plans of the government of Mozambique.