Mozambique - Inclusive regional planning in the lower Zambezi Valley

Inclusive regional planning in the lower Zambezi Valley

The Zambezi valley lies in the north of Mozambique, and is rich in natural resources and fertile soils. It also has a high biodiversity value. Pressures on land & water were rising with the development of the agricultural and mining sectors. These led to competing claims and conflict over these resources.

To support sustainable development in the area and to overcome these conflicts, the Ministry of Economy and Finance decided to develop an integral spatial territorial plan for the region including a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). It was the first time SEA was used in this type of planning process in Mozambique.

The role of the NCEA

The NCEA was fully involved in this planning process, which took around five years: from 2011 to 2016. The NCEA provided 10 independent advisory reports, with input from different expert-groups. These reports were sometimes critical, but were always well-received and led to improvement of the overall planning process.

The results

The final product, an integral territorial plan was generally acknowledged to have been developed in a transparent and consultative process. Although the plan is not (yet) approved by the National Assembly, it is already used in various ways on district and provincial level: it guides local plans and helps determine the best resettlement areas for cyclone-affected families. 

Several years later, partners and local authorities unanimously voiced their appreciation for the NCEA’s commitment to the planning process. They indicated the process would have looked very different, or maybe would never even have taken place, without NCEA involvement. The Ministry of Environment confirmed the utility of the final plan as a ‘good example and learning process’ for all. It was also indicated that the NCEA helped to stimulate ‘good strategic thinking’. It is also due to the inputs of the NCEA that the plan now contains monitoring plans and mitigation measures to reduce any impacts on communities and the environment.

During this process, several capacity development activities took place. This was for both public (civil servants) and private (consultants) stakeholders. Consultants indicated that skills acquired here, are also used in new assignments. This shows the spill-over effects: it may also lead to improved and more inclusive planning processes in the future.