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As part of the Climate Protection, Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Facility, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the Engagement Global Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), provides funding for development-policy projects carried out by German municipalities and NGOs and their partners in the Global South. The facility supports measures in the areas of forest and biodiversity conservation, emissions reduction, and adaptation to climate change.

After the BMZ approved a joint application from Bremen and Durban, the two partner cities jointly implemented the project "Restoration of wetlands for adaptation to climate change in the catchment area of the uMhlangane River" in Durban from 2013 until the end of 2016.

In the course of climate change, Durban expects to face higher temperatures, more irregular rainfall, more flooding and droughts, and a rise in sea level. In response, the city has made adaptation to climate change a high priority.

The uMhlangane River catchment exemplifies the development challenges confronting Durban. The area is characterised by a poorly functioning river system, severe environmental degradation, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Development projects in the area have not been sufficiently synchronised and interlinked, leading to inefficient use of city resources. Climate change will intensify these challenges. Yet the catchment area also presents an opportunity to show how better system management can become an important tool for adapting to climate change.

The BMZ-funded pilot project brings together a cross-sectoral team of municipal actors to work cooperatively towards renaturing an important wetland and the surrounding open spaces in the Riverhorse Valley area of the uMhlangane River catchment. The city of Durban expects the project to make multiple contributions to climate change adaptation. These include improving the area’s water retention capacity, restoring and promoting local biodiversity, reducing the risk of flooding, improving downstream water quality, and creating green jobs.

The Riverhorse Valley area was selected for this project because it contains one of the very few remaining wetlands in the uMhlangane catchment. We hope that the experience with this project will be useful in the renaturing of other wetlands downstream. We also anticipate that this project’s successful implementation will serve as a model for climate change adaptation initiatives in other areas of the catchment.

In the project implementation, Durban has drawn on Bremen’s expertise through technical workshops, project management consulting, planning of participatory processes, and short visits from experts focusing on topics like water quality management and restoration of ecosystems.

Our project page on the Engagement Global site (in German): EXT: BMZ-Projekt HB-Durban [9507]