City Context and History

Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is also the main financial, corporate and commercial centre of the country. It is located on the western shore of Maputo Bay, in the extreme south of the country, near the border with South Africa and the border with Swaziland and, consequently, the triple border of the three countries. Until 1976 the city was denominated “Lourenço Marques” in honour of the homonymous Portuguese explorer[1].

Foundation of the City

Founded in 1782 as a trading post, in 1877 Maputo was upgraded to the status of Town/Village. On the 10th November 1887 it was further upgraded to Municipality by means of a Decree of the King of Portugal (formally titled Decree Region). In this way, this last date was recognized as a municipal holiday.

In 1898 it became the capital of the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s and especially throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the city expanded commercially, industrially and residentially, benefiting from the economic growth and investment that the colony then enjoyed.

The city was renamed Maputo following national independence, a decision announced by President Samora Machel at a rally on February 3, 1976 and formalized on March 13. The name comes from the Maputo River, which marks part of the southern border of the country and which, during the war for the independence of Mozambique, had acquired great resonance through slogan “Live Mozambique united from Rovuma to Maputo” (the Rovuma and the river that forms the border with Tanzania, to the north).

In addition to these two designations, the city and its area were also known by other names, such as Baía da Lagoa, Xilunguíne or Chilunguíne (Portuguese speaking place), Mafumo, Camfumo or Campfumo (from the M’pfumo clause, the most important kingdom that existed in this region), Delagoa and Delagoa Bay.

Between 1980 and 1988 the city of Maputo included the city of Matola, forming Grande Maputo, with an area of ​​633 km2. As of 2010, Municipal District 1 was named KaM’pfumo, thus celebrating that historic name. 

Historical Events

Independence from Portugal

Mozambique succeeded in achieving independence on June 25, 1975, after a civil resistance movement known as the Carnation Revolution backed by portions of the military in Portugal overthrow the military dictatorship sponsored by the US, thus ending 470 years of Portuguese colonial rule in the East African with independence, the city suffered a huge population influx, due to the civil war inside the country (1977-1992) and the lack of infrastructures in the rural areas. The natural demographic growth would also cause the city to change substantially during the 1980s and 1990s.

Civil war

The Civil War started in 1977, two years after gaining independence from Portugal, when the ruling party, the Marxist-Leninist Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) was violently opposed by the anti-communist Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) supported first by Rhodesia and later by South Africa. The war had devastating effects in the Mozambican society, not only because millions of people died or were displaced, but also because the war hindered the consolidation of the state after independence and fostered a chronic economic crisis, whose consequences can be felt today. After the ceasefire in 1992 and the establishment of democracy, the FRELIMO party won consecutive presidential elections in 1994, 1999 and 2004, although amidst calls for greater transparency. Since the end of the war, the economy in Mozambique has improved significantly, but the country is still extremely aid-dependent.

Part of the Making Cities Sustainable and Resilient Action

Spatial dimension

Climate Type: Tropical Savanna Climate

Altitude: 47 metres.

Highest Recorded Temperature: 44.9 degrees in 2016[2]

Precipitation: 781 mm average annual.

Maputo has a tropical Savanna climate, and the weather varies according to the two climatic seasons of the region: summer and winter. The most relevant aspect about Maputo climate is the accentuated annual variability in precipitation. The period between October and April presents rainy and hot weather (summer) while the months from April to September are cold and dry (winter). The average annual precipitation is around 800 mm, the maximum average monthly rainfall occurs in January (125.8 mm) and the minimum (13.1 mm) occurs in August.


During summer, the average temperature value is around 30-31°C and precipitation during the months of November to March represents 73% of the average rainfall. In the winter season the average temperature is about 25-26°C during the months of July and August, with scarce precipitation (average values do not exceed 20mm between May and September). Southwest winds prevail in the summer while Northwest winds are predominant during the winter. In southern coastal zones of Mozambique, storms occur in the form of meteorological events characterized by intense wind and precipitation, usually associated with the passage of tropical cyclones, typically category 4. Climatic characteristics, as well as other biophysical features, intensify the occurrence of other extreme events, such as floods and cyclones.

The average monthly temperature is quite stable with an average annual rate of about 23.4˚C. The average maximum temperature varies from 25°C in the months of July and August to 30°C in January. The minimum temperature varies from 14°C in July-August to 20°C in January. The annual average relative humidity is 66.6%, with slight oscillations during the year. March has the highest values for relative humidity (71%), while lower levels are registered in June with 63.5% of average relative humidity.


The municipality of Maputo is composed by non-contiguous areas around the bay of Maputo: The Municipality Centre, KaTembe and the islands (KanYaka Island, Portuguese Island and Xefina Grande Island). The total area corresponds to about 308Km2. The Municipality Centre is the largest one with about 167Km2 that represents 54% of the territory, followed by KaTembe with 94 Km2 (31%) and KanYaka with 47 Km2 (15%).

According to PEUMM[3]Plano de Estructura Urban do Municipio de Maputo – Regulation, the space allocated to the Ecological System in the Municipality of Maputo is constituted by a set of green areas, as far as possible continuous or interconnected and integrated with the urban space to secure the biological systems functions, regulate atmospheric flows, water runoff from rainfall and the bi-chromatic comfort. These areas also contribute to the quality of urban space offering suitable places for recreation and leisure.

The ecological system of the Municipality of Maputo covers an area of around 6,061ha (excluding structural urban green areas) distributed in the following categories:

  • Riparian zones, inland waters and water recharge areas, formed by the beds of watercourses, flood-prone zones, headwaters and maximum infiltration areas;
  • Steep slopes and areas prone to erosion and landslides;
  • Protective greenways; Urban recreational areas (parks and gardens),

Some areas of ecological relevance for the city are:

  • Reserva Marinha Parcial da Ponta do Ouro (Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve);
  • Reservas Florestais do Arquipélago de KanYaka (Archipelago of KanYaka Forest Reserve);
  • Área de Conservação Transfronteira dos Libombos (Libombos Transboundary Conservation Area).

In the Municipality of Maputo, the following classes of natural habitats predominate:

  • Water / Wetlands
    • Intertidal areas of sand and soil;
    • Estuaries and Mangroves;
    • Sandy beaches;
    • Water bodies (marine prairies, coral reefs, rivers, seas, etc)
    • Riparian vegetation.
  • Terrestrial
    • Dune Systems (Sand Dunes and Dune Grass)
    • Bushes and Scrublands;

Urban Area

The rapid transformation of the territory of Maputo Municipality, verified in the last decades, presents a difficult challenge to spatial planning, and to sustainable physical planning of the city.

The Municipality of Maputo, whose area is 347 km2, has an urbanized area of ​​about 117.6 Km2 (excluding the areas as forest, indicated in the current land use plan). 33% of Maputo’s municipal land is dominated by residential uses, where approximately 1,150,000 people live and work, according to preliminary data from the Population Census of 2007.

Population density in developing urban areas/zones, has on average of 70 inhabitants per hectare. About 14% of the population are concentrated essentially in the Municipal District Nº1. In developed urban areas, population density is (8,400 ha), characterized by single-family residential typology with lack of infrastructure. There are extensive areas in need for proper planning, that is, areas that lack of legal certainty of use, demarcation and registration in the municipal register; a situation that makes it difficult for users to access services such as water and energy distribution networks, rainwater runoff.

40% of the urbanize-able spaces is occupied by areas that, despite the lack of infrastructure, have formally demarcated plots. Lack of building control is leading people who are occupying these spaces to densify the number of families per plot.

The land considered as Developed Urban Areas (Áreas Urbanas Desenvolvidas) and Developing Areas (Áreas Urbanas Desenvolvíveis) correspond respectively to the consolidated areas of the Municipality and to areas still susceptible to densification. Industrial activities, storage facilities and workshops occupy approximately 456 hectares. Land consumed by agricultural practices, still one of the main livelihood activities for a considerable part of the population, occupies 25% of the municipal territory.

Ecological System zones occupy a third of the municipal land, with emphasis on areas in KanYaka and KaTembe. This classification includes wet and flood-prone areas (3,858 ha), wetland areas with 758.03 ha, water bodies with 91.2 ha. Areas of natural vegetation (shrub-lands), mainly in KaTembe and KanYaka, form 5,132 ha. Parks and gardens extend over 257ha, of which 52.5ha are of protective greenways. Areas destined for public services and facilities, including community services (health, educational, cultural, sports, religious services, etc.) and special activities (airport, cemeteries, landfills, military fields, etc.), cover about 2510Ha, 1582 of which are for special activities.

Residential areas represent approximately a third of the total land use activities in Maputo. Large tracts of land are devoted to single-family dwellings settled in unplanned urban environments driven by an extensive urban sprawl that lacks basic infrastructure and public services.

Population and Demographics

Population Size: 1273076.

Population Density: 3.648 inhabitants/km2

Life Expectancy: 59.4 years

Religions: Catholic; Anglican; Islamic; Zione; Evangelic; Others Unknown.

Languages: Portuguese; Xichanagana; Xirhonga; Xichopi; Xitshwa; Bitonga..

Literacy Rate: 9.5%


Mozambique undertook its last census in August 2017. Since independence, the country has carried out three population censuses – in 1980, 1997 and 2007. Based on projections from the 2007 census, the INE – the National Statistics Institute -, estimates the current population is 26.4 million. The country is still overwhelmingly rural, with 17.9 million people living in the countryside, and 8.5 million living in urban areas.

The population of Mozambique’s capital city, Maputo, continues to grow at a rapid rate as the result of high birth rates and immigration. According to the latest data from  the INE (2017), there are now over 1.273.076 people living in the city, posing enormous challenges to the local government in its efforts to deliver basic services, provide food, and improve the city’s infrastructure. The population of the city has grown enormously. In 1980 it had 770,000 residents, rising to 997,000 in 1997. The latest data also shows that the life expectancy of the city’s residents is increasing. Men are now living to an average age of 55.8 years compared with 53 in 2007. For women, the increase in life expectancy is even greater, rising from 59 a decade ago to 63.1 years today.

Household information

One of the main challenges facing the city is the lack of space for new housing for young adults, who represent a major part of the population. As a result, young married couples are opting to build houses in the outer zones of the city. The population pyramid is characterized by the increasing birth rate and growing numbers of young people”.

Economy and Livelihoods

National Gross Domestic Product – GDP: $12,646 billion in 2017

National Export and Import Ratio: $6.06 billion national export and $8.3 billion national Import in 2015

Mozambique is the 97th largest export economy in the world and the 97th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2015, Mozambique exported $6.06B and imported $8.93B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $2.87B. In 2017the GDP of Mozambique was $12,646 billion[4] and its GDP per capita was $519.

National Economy and Urban Economy

Mozambique is the 97th largest export economy in the world and the 97th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2015, Mozambique exported $6.06B and imported $8.93B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $2.87B.

The top exports of Mozambique are Raw Aluminium, Aluminium Bars, Electricity, Coal Briquettes and Coke, whereas its top imports are Refined Petroleum, Raw Aluminium, Packaged Medicaments, Electricity, and Delivery Trucks.

The top export destinations of Mozambique are South Africa ($1.09B), the Netherlands ($998M), India($628M), Belgium-Luxembourg ($404M) and Italy($400M). The top import origins are South Africa($2.37B), China ($1.05B), the Netherlands ($554M), India ($465M) and Portugal ($447M).

Mozambique borders Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe by land and Comoros and Madagascar by sea.

In 2015 Mozambique exported $6.06B, making it the 97th largest exporter in the world. During the last five years the exports of Mozambique have increased at an annualized rate of 5.3%, from $4.35B in 2010 to $6.06B in 2015. The most recent exports are led by Raw Aluminium which represent 19.3% of the total exports of Mozambique, followed by Aluminium Bars, which account for 15%.

The annual gross domestic product per capita in Mozambique was USD349 in 2006, one of the lowest in the world; however, in the last decade, the country has shown an average annual economic growth rate of about eight per cent (UNDP 2007). The country Human Development Index has increased from 0.413 in 2002 to 0.466 in 2007 (UNDP 2007). Today, agriculture is the main economic activity of the country, and most of the workforce relies on subsistence agriculture, especially in rural areas, with considerable exposition to weather-induced risks such as floods and droughts.

In 2015 Mozambique imported $8.93B, making it the 103rd largest importer in the world. During the last five years the imports of Mozambique have increased at an annualized rate of 16.3%, from $3.88B in 2010 to $8.93B in 2015. The most recent imports are led by Refined Petroleum which represent 9.2%.

There is also a considerable volunteer network. Local and international organizations have attracted many international volunteers to Mozambique. Volunteer placements occur in cities and rural areas, and across many sectors. Further information can be found in the next section on ‘Volunteering in Mozambique’.

Maputo City is the African city with the highest potential for inclusive growth, according to the 2015 MasterCard African Cities Growth Index (ACGI). Maputo’s inclusive growth potential falls into the medium-high category, attributed to its share of Mozambique’s foreign direct investment (FDI), which as a percentage of national GDP is among the highest in the world. The city boasts constantly improving levels of government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and ease of doing business.

The city of Maputo also occupies a central position in terms of Infrastructure, Economic activity, Education and Health. The city concentrates most of the services and corporate headquarters of main economic groups and companies (public and private). Despite concentrating only 5.4% of the country’s population, Maputo is responsible for 20.2% of Mozambique’s GDP. The trade, transport and communications, and manufacturing sectors are the most significant, accounting respectively for 29.6%, 29.5% and 12.4% of national production, according to the National Human Development Report (Relatório Nacional de Desenvolvimento Humano).


Around 80% of the population continues to work in agriculture, where there is a focus on the production and export of fish, sugar, cashews, cotton and timber. Local employment in the newly emerging resource industries has been extremely limited. The manufacturing sector remains grossly under-developed, and the tourism industry has struggled to rebound following the civil war. Furthermore, steady growth has been thwarted by a series of large floods in the central region.

Approximately 54% of Maputo city’s residents live below the poverty line of $1.50 per day and 70% live in informal settlements.

Government and Public Administration

Administrative structure

The Government of Mozambique, through the Ministry of State Administration and Public Administration, is progressively implementing a decentralization process aimed at transferring the central government’s political and financial responsibilities to municipalities (Law 2/97, supplemented by Laws 7-10/97 ), Municipal Finance (Law 11/97, to enable municipalities to invest in water and urban sanitation systems). Decentralization aims to ensure the provision of adequate public services, involving the participation of communities in the decision-making process, where accountability is one of the key factors for success.

The Municipality of Maputo has been run since November 1998 by a Municipal Council, a collegial executive body constituted by a President elected by direct vote for a term of five years and by 15 councilors appointed by him. The government is monitored by a Municipal Assembly, composed of councilmen also elected by direct vote. Prior to this date the city was run by an Executive Council appointed by the central government.

Municipality of Maputo is headed by a democratically elected President every five years. The Municipal Council of Maputo is comprised by a Mayor, a Municipal Councilor and 12 Municipal Directorates (Vereações). It also has 9 cabinets including 1 Group of Municipal Advisers. It is currently organized through the following directorates: President’s Office, Economic Activities; Education, Culture and Social Action; Finance; Infrastructure; Market and Trade Shows; Urban Planning and Environment; Human Resources; Health and Health and Information Systems.

The city administratively constitutes a municipality with an elected government and has also, since 1980, the status of province. It should not be confused with the province of Maputo that occupies the most southern part of the Mozambican territory, except the city of Maputo. The municipality has an area of ​​347 km2.

Strategies, policies and plans

In the pursuit of its actions the municipality of Maputo is guided through the various plans, policies and strategies developed by both the Central Government and the Municipal Council. Some of the key policies include the Maputo City Council Five-Year Program for 2014-2018, the Urban Solid Waste Management Master Plan in Maputo City, the Urban Solid Waste Management Regulation, the Hazardous Waste Management Regulations . Among several strategies that are most relevant to the municipality in the context of Urban Resilience is the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change (ENAMMC) for the period 2013-2025. This strategy defines as a national priority the adaptation and reduction of climate risk and groups strategic actions within the two main pillars (i) Adaptation and reduction of climate risk and (ii) Low carbon mitigation and development, in particular the development of resilience mechanisms urban areas and other settlements and promoting low-carbon development and the green economy through their integration into the sectoral and local planning process.

Municipalities have their own budgets, prepared and managed according to the principles of the State Budget. The municipalities harmonize their financial regime with the general and financial principles and assets in force for the General State budget, in order to ensure the application of national accounting standards. Revenue from Municipalities is classified by its nature, in terms of capital and depending on its origin, is either own or sub-conventional nature.

Current revenues are:

  • The proceeds from the collection of taxes of an eminently municipal nature already existing or that may be created;
  • A percentage of certain taxes levied by the state, under the terms to be defined by Law;
  • The integral product of collection of fees or tariffs resulting from the provision of services or licensing by the local authority;
  • The product of penalties that may be imposed on local authorities by law, regulation or position;
  • The product of inheritances, legacies, donations other liberalities

They are own capital revenues:

  • The income from the services of the local authority, which it administers or grants;
  • Income from own, movable or immovable property;
  • The income from financial partitions;
  • The product of alienation of patrimonial and own assets;
  • The product of loans contracted by the local authority;
  • The product of inheritances, legacies, donations and other liberal charities on a specific investments

Resilience including Risk Reduction

  • Ecological Zoning Plan and Protection of Ecologically Sensitive Areas of the Municipality of Maputo;
  • Municipal Environmental Education Plan;
  • Municipal Plan to Combat Environmental Pollution;
  • Municipal Plan for Adapting to Climate Change
  • Municipal Plan of Ecological Zoning of the Costa do Sol Mangroove;
  • Legal Framework for Environmental Management and Inspection;
  • Plan of Protection and Maintenance of Slopes;
  • Plan of priority environmental actions

Hazards and Challenges

Maputo Municipality has been identified as one of the most risk-prone locations to climate change in Mozambique by the (World Bank, 2010; INGC[5], 2012). The Municipality of Maputo is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, where the incidence of events such as droughts, high temperature periods, internal flooding, tropical cyclones and malaria outbreaks are observed (Lobelia, 2018).

Climate Change Trends in Maputo

Climate change models indicate that the intensified warming of local climate by the end of the 21st century, is likely to maintain or to exacerbate the current exposure of the Maputo area to episodic inland flooding and destructive cyclones, caused by the expected increasing capacity of the warmer atmosphere to hold more moisture and to become saturated.

Maputo City is already highly vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal erosion under the present-day climate. Projected changes in precipitation intensity and precipitation extremes towards a greater wetness in the area is expected to result into a greater exposure to floods (part of it due to the precipitation associated to cyclones), especially during the rainy season overlapping winter months. Along with, intensified erosion and soil salinization could be also processes likely to be associated to these trends. Additionally, given the inadequacy of waste management systems in the city, diseases outbreaks are highly plausible following flooding events in the city. Frequent cases of Malaria outbreaks have been recorded during the aftermath of such events.

The intensified warming and the changing patterns in temperature and precipitation extremes is expected to affect water availability and food security in the area, through perturbations of harvest cycles of major crops, reduced recharge water capacity of agricultural soils, increased water demand for irrigations, but also agricultural land degradation induced by erosion and floods, in relation to the growing frequency of hot extremes (tropical nights, heat waves), heavy and very heavy precipitation days and higher evapotranspiration.

Projected temperature increase in the Maputo City is likely to exacerbate also health risks associated to heat stress.

For detailed analysis on climate Change projection in Maputo, see (Link) – Lobelia report.

The Risk of Climate Change Impacts in Maputo

The direct consequences of climate-related threats in Maputo Municipality include the destruction of infrastructure such as roads, drainage systems, sewage, water and electricity systems, public and private buildings, public spaces. This leads to a disruption to various urban processes or reduction in the quality of service provision for the residents of the municipality. On the other hand the subsistence activities of the majority of the citizens are sensitive to the climatic risks; therefore, sources of income are also affected. The current economic losses due to climate-related risks / threats in Maputo Municipality are estimated at $ 50 million per year and are expected to increase in the future if appropriate adaptation measures are not implemented (Queface 2016). Its coastal location means that Maputo’s freshwater sources are subject to saltwater intrusion from rising sea level.

In general, the main focus of climate change assessment and impact studies has been on a national level, which has led to inadequate adaptation plans / measures at the municipal level. Many of the impacts resulting from climate change are already significantly affecting city’s inhabitants, the ecosystems and infrastructure ​​in various coastal areas and in the inland of the municipality of Maputo.

Crisis Types

During the last 25 years, Mozambique has suffered from an uninterrupted sequence of drought and floods which negatively affected the country’s social and economic development. The most severe drought periods were recorded in 1981–1984, 1991–1992 and 1994–1995; while floods were observed in 1977–1978, 1985, 1988, 1999–2000, 2007–2008. Floods are often magnified by cyclones.

Since 1970, Mozambique has been hit by 34 significant cyclones or tropical depressions and 5 major flood events (2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008 and most recently in early 2012 following tropical cyclones from the Indian coast). In particular, the number of recorded cyclones during the 1999– 2000 wet seasons was extraordinarily high and flooding had significant consequences. Cyclone Idai – hit the coast of Mozambique in March 11th, described as one of the worst disasters in the Southern Hemisphere[6], causing catastrophic impacts in Mozambique. An estimated 400,000 people were displaced by the storm and resulting floods[7] and 90% of Beira city, where the cyclone made landfall, was severely damaged.



[1] National  Institute of Disaster Management

[2] Junior et al, CCCI Climate Change Assessment in Maputo,UN-Habitat, 2009 & Maputo Local Adaptation Plan, 2016

[3] Climate change Assessment in Maputo, UN HABITAT 2009

[4] Maputo Local Adaptation Plan, 2016

[5] ICLEI, City Adaptation Network. Maputo Baseline Study, 2006

[6] GFDRR Climate Change Country Profile, Mozambique. 2011



[3] The Maputo Municipality Urban Structure Plan


[5] Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades


[7] International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)