Updated 20/07/23

2020 - July 2022



In spite of spectacular development progress since independence and considerable GDP growth of on average 7% over the past 2 decades, Mozambique remains one of the world’s poorest nations with almost half of its approximately 30 million people living in absolute poverty.  The majority of rural population thus remains highly dependent on natural resources and their associated ecosystem services for which rainfall and river flows are key drivers.

Mozambique is a downstream country with most of the catchments of its main rivers (Zambezi, Pungwe, Buzi, Umbeluzi Limpopo, Incomati, Save and Maputo) originating in upstream neighbouring countries.

Different kinds of flows that compose the flow regime of a river each contribute differently to the river’s overall ecological maintenance. The key elements of natural flow regimes are flow variability, low-flows (usually related to dry season), high-flows (associated with floods) and small floods, seasonally and inter-annually distributed.

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© IRD - Christian Lévêque

Women fishing after the flood of the Pongolo river, in South Africa.


The purpose of the project is to design environmental flows that would maintain and enhance biodiversity values and the functioning of the estuarine and deltaic ecosystems of the Lower Incomati, in southern Mozambique, in order to optimise the delivery of a number of key ecosystem services to a range of stakeholders and with the well-being of vulnerable user groups a priority.

Hydrology in South Africa.

© IRD - Vincent Chaplot

Specific objectives:

  • Constitution of a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and participatory research team for observation, monitoring, analysis and eflow scenario-development
  • Development of a comprehensive mapping of the key habitats and biodiversity values of the Lower Incomati and their evolution in the past 70 years
  • Analysis of the current freshwater flow pattern (as a driving indicator): the scientists aim at analysing the quantity, quality and the spatial extent of the freshwater entering the key habitats of the Macaneta wetlands in the Lower Incomati (and their interaction with the tidal rythms)
  • Identification and quantification of the relationships between the freshwater flow pattern and the coastal wetland productivity using biological proxies (plants, fish, birds) – Ecological indicators
  • Ecosystem services analysis including a semi-quantitative analysis of links between the natural resource produced by the delta and the user livelihoods, at the household level.
  • Comprehensive analysis of the stakeholders’ natural resource use strategies (including the policy context) and their interactions, tensions and trade-offs
  • Jointly develop and discuss Eflow scenarios that could optimize the wetland productivity, meet the downstream user needs and strategies and alleviate poverty





WIOSAP programme – UN Environment and Nairobi Convention

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