Timeframe: June 2005 to August 2006; February 2008 to May 2009
Location: Sofala Province, Mozambique
Summary: Working in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, the pilot project sought to reduce vulnerability to uncontrolled wildland fires today and to promote the inclusion of climate change consideration in the design and implementation of relevant district- and national-level policies. It aimed to increase capacity at the community level to prevent, manage and fight fires; to improve coordination of fire management at the provincial level; and build the capacity of the National Disaster Management Institute to manage fires.
Lead Executing Agency: AMBERO-IP Consult
Funders: Global Environment Facility, Government of the Netherlands and the Government of Norway, with co-financing from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
For millennia, fire has been used in Mozambique to support livelihood activities such as agriculture, pastoralism, hunting and charcoal production. Fire remains a critical (and economical) tool for land management, and its use for this purpose is not a problem in and of itself. However, as traditional management systems have broken down, the number of uncontrolled fires in Mozambique has increased. Annually, these fires affect about 40 per cent of the country and have ramifications for human health and safety, economic development and the maintenance of ecological diversity. As the process of climate change continues, the frequency and intensity of these fires is anticipated to rise.
The ACCESA pilot project Community-based Fire Management in Central Mozambique was initiated in response to these concerns. It sought to reduce current vulnerability to uncontrolled wildland fires in Sofala Province and promote consideration of climate change impacts in the design and implementation of relevant district- and national-level policies. Completed in two phases (2005–2006 and 2008–2009), the pilot project pursued a multi-pronged approach to enhancing wildland fire management in Mozambique. At the local level, the pilot project sought to build capacity to prevent, manage and fight fires. At the provincial level, it sought to strengthen a multistakeholder roundtable for wildfire coordination. At the national level, the project worked with the National Disaster Management Institute (Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades or INGC) to build its fire management capacity.
By its conclusion in May 2009, the pilot project had:
Provided training in fire prevention, management and fighting to 23 communities in Buzi and Cheringoma districts, Sofala Province—nearly all of the communities in these districts that are prone to wildland fires;
Established a fire danger rating and communication system in Buzi district;
Facilitated the work of a Provincial Coordination Committee for Natural Resource Management in Sofala Province that brought together representatives from local government departments and non-governmental organizations;
Completed studies on fire occurrence and awareness in Mozambique and on the requirements for establishing an effective information and communication warning system in the country; and
Engaged relevant stakeholders at the local, provincial and national levels on the need to establish better systems for collecting and disseminating information relevant to fire management; enhance coordination between existing structures; and better educate the public about the need to manage fires.
At the conclusion of the pilot project, it was observed that the following steps should be taken to increase Mozambique’s capacity to manage wildland fires today and as the climate changes:
Improve coordination of fire management efforts by ministries at the national level.
A number of national ministries have begun to implement fire information, prevention, preparedness, suppression and rehabilitation activities under Mozambique’s 2007 “Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Wildfire.” Although the Action Plan is intended to promote systematic interaction, coordination and planning across ministries, this has not yet occurred. There is a need to clarify institutional arrangements and mandates; determine roles and responsibilities for fire management; and establish agreed-upon rules and regulations for fire prevention and responsible use. In particular, there is a need to better coordinate the collection, analysis and distribution of fire-related information among the Ministry of Coordination of Environmental Affairs, the Department of Agriculture and the INGC. Other ministries, such as those of Justice, Home Affairs and Education and Culture, also need to be engaged in these efforts.
Improve access to fire information and data at the national level.
Information about the occurrence, extent and frequency of fires is essential for: triggering fire management procedures; reducing current and future fire risk; and increasing awareness of the likely economic and ecological consequences of fire. Satellite-based systems have become critical tools for providing this information, but are used only to a limited extent in Mozambique. Greater access to and effective use of tools such as the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) is required to ensure the collection of necessary fire data and information consistently and reliably.
Strengthen the sharing of fire information from the national to the provincial and district levels.
Once available, a systematic process is then required to generate and professionally analyze satellite-based fire information and make it easily available to all stakeholders at the provincial and district levels. To achieve this goal, an information and communication flow model for wildland fire should be created in Mozambique by the main institutions and organizations working on fire management issues. Within this model, it is recommended that the compilation, analysis and dissemination of satellite fire information be made the responsibility of one organization, such as the National Centre for Mapping and Remote Sensing (Centro Nacional de Cartografia e Teledetecção) within the Ministry of Agriculture. It would then share this information with stakeholders at the national, provincial and district levels following pre-determined procedures. Existing communication tools, such as telephone, facsimile and email, should be enhanced to better facilitate knowledge sharing.
Establish a Fire Danger Rating System for Mozambique.
The establishment of a national fire danger rating system (FDRS) specific to conditions in Mozambique is essential for determining daily fire prevention, preparedness and suppression activities by fire managers; and when fire might become a local or national disaster. The establishment of this system will require the completion of long-term research on fuel models and consequent calibration of a fire danger equation; training of relevant institutions on the calculation and interpretation of fire danger information; and the introduction of fire danger messages and related implication for readiness, prescribed burning and suppression at the community level. The National Meteorology Institute (Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia) should be given responsibility for the development of this system.
Promote the introduction of community-based fire management.
The pilot project demonstrated effective ways of providing district- and local-level disaster risk management committees and natural resources management committees with training in fire prevention, mitigation and fighting. The project’s experiences in Buzi and Cheringoma districts should be built upon to ensure that similar training is provided to district- and local-level committees, particularly disaster risk management committees, in other areas vulnerable to wildland fires. Opportunities for sharing the experiences of districts and private sector groups in fire prevention and control also need to be created. As well, a system for communicating fire danger and taking prescribed actions needs to be institutionalized as the district level.
Strengthen the fire-management capacity of INGC.
Reflecting its pivotal role in disaster preparation and management in Mozambique, the INGC should be provided with greater access to the tools needed to combat wildland fires. The provision of these tools, along with capacity-building actions, is needed to enable INGC to appropriately communicate fire danger ratings, provide training to local-level committees, and encourage wildland fire prevention. The inclusion of fire management as a priority in INGC’s 2010–2012 work plan is a positive step towards achieving these objectives.
Accelerate public education and awareness raising efforts.
The involvement of people is essential to the success of any wildland fire management efforts, particularly as most fires are the result of human interventions. As such, public education is needed to raise awareness of the danger posed by uncontrolled fires and to provide people with guidance on how to reduce fire risk by changing their behaviour.
Information and Communications Warning System on Wildland Fire in Mozambique (PDF – 1.3 MB)
In this technical paper, Anja A. Hoffmann provides recommendations regarding the steps Mozambique could take towards establishing and implementing a national information and communication early warning system for wildland fire management. The paper’s Executive Summary (PDF – 906 KB) is available in Portuguese.
Climate Change and Wild Land Fires: The implications for Mozambique (PDF – 404 KB)
At the 7th Conference of the Southern African Fire Network held in Caprivi, Namibia, September 22–26, 2008, Anja A. Hoffman presented the outcomes of ongoing research regarding the implications of climate change for Mozambique's fire regime that was undertaken as part of the ACCESA project.
Community-Based Fire Management in Central Mozambique (PDF – 5.3 MB)
Mário Norman, AMBERO-IP, provided an overview of the pilot project in Mozambique during the Early Lessons from Implementation of Climate Change Adaptation Projects in South-Eastern Africa workshop held in Maputo, Mozambique, April 24–25, 2007.
For more information about this project, please contact:
Jo-Ellen Parry, Deputy Director, Climate Change and Energy, IISD