Mozambicans share their stories of urban resilience

Text Jadi Miranda

April 26, 2019

Nikon D800 | Lente 14-24mm f2.8 | Lente 24-85mm f2.8 | Lente 85mm f1.8


Note: Text based on interviews and the annual PRODEM report by Nina B. Jørgensen. 

When he travels throughout the country to photograph development projects, Joca has the opportunity to meet and shoot remarkable people. With packed memory cards, he comes back bursting with stories to tell, which, however trivial may be, still sound singular and amazing. They are Mozambicans turning the support they receive into something they can call theirs.

These images were captured for the Municipal Development Program (PRODEM) in Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa and reveal some of the activities in which the program is involved in. By supporting good governance and capacity building of technical personnel at municipalities, PRODEM aims to improve the lives of people who live in vulnerable areas of Mozambique. 

Imo Joma is a driver for the Municipality of Monapo in Nampula province where he collects garbage from the streets and takes to a close-by dump. 

In Monapo, a village with nearly 130 thousand residents, PRODEM has assisted the municipality with a waste collection and transportation plan and with a tractor for the job. While capturing this process Joca met Imo Joma. In his smile, this “Monapoian” makes evident the pride and dedication he devotes to his job. And it’s not in vain. Monapo used to have added garbage in its streets. But since Imo started to drive the Sonalika tractor and taking waste from his village’s residential area to a dump a few kilometers away, the situation has greatly improved.

“I started to drive this tractor on December 27th, 2016. It was a beautiful moment. Amazing. Sweet.” Imo Joma Ibrahim, driver at the Monapo Municipality.

North of Monapo, in Nacala, PRODEM is supporting another municipality aiming to relieve its habitants of the effects of rainfall and erosion as well as from the influx of people to the city.

Nacala is growing rapidly and so is its wholesale market, Namapa, positioned on the side of a main road where vehicles and large-ton trucks drive through everyday. Traffic accidents are frequent here. Here lies the main reason why the market is being relocated or, at least, so wish it its sellers and buyers. Joca was able to witness and capture the beginning stages of the relocation process during a visit to Namapa’s current site with PRODEM staff and Nacala’s Municipality Director of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Quissia Nihia. 

Namapa’s market current site, in Nacala city, is not big enough for its expanding activities. Today, market and road co-exist in a frenetic, unsafe space in jeopardy of its users.
Moments at the Nacala market where one can buy second-hand clothes, locally called “calamidades”.

“I agree that its a good idea to reposition the market to a better and healthier site. My pineapples won’t be covered in dust and pollution anymore”Pedro Ismaila (18), fruit vendor at Namapa market

Nacala’s Municipality’s Director of Industry, Commerce and Turism, Quissia Silvia Nihia (left) talks to some vendors who will be affected by the relocation of the market.  

“We have a market which is right by the side of the road and has great risk of accidents” Quissia Nihia, about the market’s relocation.



At the end of his photographic journey, Joca met António Chale, erosion specialist at the Nacala Municipality, who has worked with PRODEM to reduce the effects of erosion and floods on the most vulnerable Nacala residents. 

Nacala, like other Mozambican coastal cities, has erosion issues. In areas close to the sea and harbor, the municipality has an enormous challenge: erosion is creating large ravines and the sea is eating away more land. When it rains heavily, sand travels from high ground to downtown, where, as it accumulates, blocks water pipes and triggers back serious flooding.  

António Chale says that its difficult to maintain the ground intact because people remove its vegetation layer for housing and agriculture. Here, one of PRODEM’s main support areas to the municipality pertains to urban planning related to informal settling and climate change resilience.

“This whole area has erosion problems. We need an intervention. If this continues, in some years we won’t have Nacala anymore. It will be wiped out from Mozambique’s map. It’s serious” António Chale, erosion specialist at the Nacala Municipality.