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RELEASE: ICLEI Africa steps up tangible support to build resilience of cities and towns affected by Cyclone Idai

4 APRIL 2019: Today, as cities and towns in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, are still reeling from the effects of Cyclone Idai, ICLEI Africa launched an initiative which mobilises existing and new resources to provide tangible long-term support to build the resilience of those cities and towns most affected by the devastation left behind by the cyclone.

ICLEI Africa’s Fortitude Initiative moves beyond rhetoric, to mobilise financial, human and technological solutions on the ground in cities and towns across Africa, who are most affected by extreme weather events, such as Cyclone Idai. These actions will build on ICLEI Africa’s existing resilience related work, including three resilience-focused projects in the affected countries. The initiative further supports cities and towns in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, to build back better following Cyclone Idai and implement innovative solutions that improve response to disasters in the future.

The intensity of Cyclone Idai – with wind speeds up to 170 km/h being reported in Beira, Mozambique – may well be indicative of the new normal, where cyclones are more intense and frequent, exacerbated by climate change.

“We believe that this disaster calls us to enact a significant step-change in how we act in relation to sustainability on the Continent,” said Ms. Kobie Brand, Regional Director, ICLEI Africa. “What is occurring in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, goes beyond climate change, and speaks to the paramount importance of transforming the systems that perpetuate the vulnerability of our fast-growing urban and surrounding communities in Africa. We invite the ICLEI network of cities and partners, as well as other interested organisations, governments and institutions to explore ways in which we can multiply and coordinate our efforts in support of the communities so severely affected by Cyclone Idai. We look forward to working with these partners to ensure an efficient, rapid and resilient rebuild effort in the weeks, months and years ahead.”

Through the ICLEI Africa Fortitude Initiative, ICLEI will work with national and subnational governments and their associations, development partners, banks, the private sector and the donor community, across the African continent and internationally, to mobilise resources that will flow directly to cities and towns and result in tangible local actions. These actions will be based directly on locally defined needs, with a focus on post-disaster action and building back better.

“The successive occurrence of extreme climate events affecting Mozambique clearly shows the degree of vulnerability of our country and the urgent need to think about building long- term urban resilience,” said Dr. Calisto Moisés Cossa, President, Associação Nacional dos Municípios de Moçambique (ANAMM). “We need to urgently consider new approaches to land-use management and a new vision for the reconstruction and management of our cities in the long-term, with special attention to sensitive and vulnerable areas, so that they are resilient, safe and inclusive. It is necessary to build partnerships to strengthen adaptation to climate change in order to reduce disaster risk. Synergies need to be established to accelerate the achievement of the sustainable development goals in the coming years in Mozambique.”

Immediate steps being taken include:

  • Development of a Mobilisation and Action Plan: To respond to the immediate and longer term effects of Cyclone Idai in each of the three affected countries, ICLEI Africa will work directly with affected Mayors, city teams and partner organisations to co-develop the Fortitude Initiative.
  • Mobilising existing resources: Assessment of existing programmes and projects being implemented by ICLEI Africa and partners in these countries, for alignment with the current situation.
  • Mobilising additional resources: Working with partners to ensure resources flow fast to a more resilient rebuild effort.

“Our strong cooperation with ICLEI has taken on a new urgency, following the tragic losses caused by Cylone Idai. We will continue to work with ICLEI Africa, to support local action to reduce risk and disaster losses. Sustainable development in southern Africa has suffered a terrible reverse over these last two weeks. We need to do all in our power to support adaptation to climate change and to build back resilient infrastructure to a standard required to face the new reality of extreme weather events,” said Mr. Amjad Abbashar, Regional Director, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Office for Africa.

ICLEI Africa has recently joined the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force as Technical Lead. The Task Force aims to coordinate climate action in favour of local governments on the African continent, and the Fortitude Initiative will be further strengthened through this partnership.

“To ICLEI’s many member cities and other local and subnational governments in the affected areas, we stand with you in the wake of this unprecedented disaster in Africa and are committed to walk this journey with you, each step of the way,” said Mr. Gino van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, in launching the new Fortitude Initiative.

There are many disaster relief and health NGOs working to address acute emergency needs in the area. “ICLEI salutes and expresses its deepest gratitude to the United Nations, the SADC region and the many disaster relief and health NGOs and other organisations who are making disaster relief donations and operating tirelessly on the ground to support the millions of affected people in the aftermath of the cyclone,” said Ms. Brand. “We know these actors are each bringing much needed immediate support to the affected communities.”

“We, as Mayors of cities affected by Cyclone Idai, have seen the critical need for long-term resilience, to build safer African cities for the future. As clean-up operations are ongoing, we know that rebuilding will be a longer term journey. We therefore want to thank ICLEI for beginning the new Fortitude Initiative, and for sharing our belief that cities can and should be at the forefront of building long-term resilience,” said Mayor Manuel de Araújo, Quelimane, Mozambique.


ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – is a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 100+ countries, we influence sustainability policy and drive action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilience and circular development. The ICLEI Africa Secretariat operates across 24 sub-Saharan African countries, offering a variety of urban sustainability solutions.

For more information and updates on the ICLEI Africa Fortitude Initiative, please email and follow on Twitter @ICLEIAfrica. For more on ICLEI Africa, please visit

Media inquiries:

Ms Kobie Brand
Regional Director ICLEI Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Cell: +27 (0)84 200 0110

Dr Meggan Spires

Senior Manager: Climate Change, Energy and Resilience ICLEI Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Cell: +27(0)71 104 7856

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