Small Islands Celebrate World Water Day 2016

Mauritius, Grand Baie – The Minister of Energy and Public Utilities of Mauritius, H. E. Ivan Collendavelloo, officially kicked off the World Water Day 2016 celebrations by launching an exhibition on water at the “La Marie” water treatment plant, the biggest in the country. The three-day event on the theme “Water and Jobs” was organised at the initiative of the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities in collaboration with several ministries and departments. During the event awareness raising materials produced under the framework of the IWRM AIO SIDS demonstration project in Mauritius were distributed to the participants.

Present at the opening, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Ivan Collendavelloo, said that although 99% of the population have access to water, some 20% do not receive adequate water because of the aging water network. Hence the need for good management and a review of organisational aspects of the CWA, he added.

The IWRM AIO SIDS demonstration project in Mauritius was launched in oder to improve water management by adopting a coordinated approach to protect the Northern Aquifer. The aquifer contributes between 50 and 60 percent of water used for domestic purposes, such as washing and drinking, but it is susceptible to over-exploitation and pollution from agricultural chemicals, sewage and wastewater.

With a view to improving awareness and knowledge of the complex geological structure of the Northern Aquifer (and the quality of its water) a partnership and co-finance arrangement has been established between the United Nations Development Programme and the government of Mauritius through its Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities/Water Resources Unit (WRU). Part of the project activities seek to address the lack of awareness of the population on the treats to this precious resource and World Water Day provided a good platform to that endeavour. Overall, the project is setting up a GIS-based groundwater monitoring system to support and ensure timely decision and overall protection of the vital Northern aquifer water resources.

During the official opening ceremony of the exhibition Mr. Simon Springett, the UN Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, noted the progress made in the implementation of the project and highlighted its importance to enable the Water Resource Unit and the Central Water Authority of Mauritius to gauge more accurately the potential of the Northern Aquifer.

The demonstrations project in Mauritius is part of a bigger initiative, the “Integrated Water Resource Management in Atlantic and Indian Ocean Small Island Developing States Project (IWRM AIO SIDS)”, funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) and aiming at promoting integrated water management in six island: Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe. The United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme are the implementing agencies. The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) was tasked to execute the project on the ground in partnership with respective national authorities, in this case the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities.

Other activities organised at national level in Mauritius included:

– A rally was organised on the 24th of March 2016 at Riviera Rampart. Students from the University of Mauritius, representatives of the Ministry of Education, members of Youth Clubs and employees from the Cooperative Society participated to the event. The purpose was to sensitise students and the public at large to the importance of water use efficiency. On this occasion students planted trees on banks of river to highlight the concept of water conservation. Some 150 students have taken part to the event.

– From the 22nd to the 24th of March students and the public at large has been invited to come and visit the Midlands Dam and Pailles Water Treatment plant. Water Use Efficiency sensitisation activities have been organised. Pamphlets and brochures were distributed to all visitors on that occasion.

– An awareness raising campaign aimed at sensitising the public on the need of protecting water resources has been launched at national level in Mauritius. Tv and radio adverts as well as billboards have been running from the 19th to the 29th of March 2016, in parallel to the World Water Day 2016 celebrations. The materials were produced in the framework of the IWRM AIO SIDS project.

– A fresco competition on IWRM was organised. Students from the region of Cascavelle (West coast of Mauritius) have been invited to paint the surrounding walls of nearby reservoir. The activity provided an excellent opportunity to insure visibility to the project as it is situated in an area which is widely visited in the region. The first prize was awarded to Swami Sivananda SSS and the team received Rs 20,000, shields and certificates. The second prize went to Collège du St Esprit which received a cash prize of Rs 15,000, shields and certificates. Quatre Bornes SSS bagged the third prize and was awarded a cash prize of Rs 10,000, shields and certificates. The remaining non-winning teams received Rs 5,000 and certificates. The prizes were awarded on the day of the opening of the exhibition at La Marie Water Treatment Plant, i.e. 22 March 2016. Materials for painting, refreshments, t-shirts and caps were provided freely to participants.

Read the article on the activities on the Government website.

Have a look at our picture gallery on Flickr.