Mauritius: Minister Lesjongard Launches the Water Observatory for Mauritius and Rodrigues

press release

The Water Observatory in Mauritius and Rodrigues, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and the Office de l'eau of Reunion Island, under the Fund for Technical Expertise and Experience Transfers (FEXTE), was launched, this morning, by the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Pierre Lesjongard, at the Victoria Beachcomber Resort in Pointe aux Piments.

On the same occasion, a two-day workshop is being organised for officers concerned by the project. The Vice-President of the Conseil départemental of Reunion Island and President of the Office de l'eau, Mr Gilles Hubert; the Director of the AFD for Mauritius and Seychelles, Mr André Pouillès-Duplaix; and other personalities were present at the event.

In his address, Minister Lesjongard expressed gratitude to the AFD and the Office de l'eau of Reunion Island for their support in the setting up of the Water Observatory in Mauritius and Rodrigues. He stressed that it would help the relevant authorities to have a better management in the sector and respond to new challenges.

The Minister highlighted the key objectives of the project: compiling a comprehensive information/database on the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the water sector and, providing inputs in the formulation of the most appropriate policy.

He also underlined that a website would be set up so that the public could have access to information on the water situation in the country and data such as water levels in reservoirs/rivers/boreholes.

Speaking about the adverse impacts of climate change on water resources availability, particularly in Small Island Developing Nations such as Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion Island, Mr Pierre Lesjongard called for a change of mindset and attitude across society for optimum use of water reserves. In addition, he stressed the need to foster more efficiency in relevant institutions.

Key measures in the pipeline to deal with water resources issues were also detailed by the Minister. They included the replacement of existing 25,000 waters meters with smart water meters, and the possibility of setting up a system of telemetry on the water networks of the Central Water Authority, with the support of the AFD.

As for the Vice-President of the Conseil départemental of Reunion Island and President of the Office de l'eau, he reiterated the commitment of his Office to ensure sustainable development of the island territories. "The acquisition of water resources," he stressed, "is a key element in this endeavour."

Furthermore, he pointed out that in the wake of the adverse impacts of climate change, an effective management of water resources was critical. Mr Hubert indicated that the Water Observatory was a key tool in decision-making as well as dissemination of knowledge. He dwelt on the importance of having a database, namely in terms of scientific knowledge, innovation, with a view to improve public service delivery and to restore public trust.

For the Director of the AFD for Mauritius and Seychelles, the AFD had catered for a financial aid of EUR 250,000 for the undertaking of the Water Observatory project. According to him, it would enable the elaboration of a cartography, produce quantitative and qualitative knowledge of the water resources and contribute to the sharing of key information among concerned public agencies. Besides, he affirmed that it would allow Mauritius to develop its National Strategy to better manage and exploit its water resources and raise awareness through information dissemination among the population.

Mr André Pouillès-Duplaix reiterated his support to Mauritius in its development initiatives in key sectors.

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