World Water Day in Mauritius

The World Water Day is celebrated annually on the 22nd March since 1993 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This Global event is coordinated by the Food and  Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Water and Food Security”, where the focus is to draw attention to the linkages that exist between water and food security. 

More on World Water Day HERE and on the World Water Day Video:

World Water Day in Mauritius
On the Occasion of the World Water Day 2012, the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities in collaboration with the Central Water Authority (CWA) and the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre organized a 3-day exhibition on water and food security from 20th to 22nd March 2012 at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre. In this context other activities were also organized, including a workshop on the theme “Water and Food Security”, conducted tours at the CWA water treatment plants and two competitions targeting primary and secondary students.

Opening Ceremony 
The Official opening ceremony of the event was held on the 22nd March from 09:30 to 10:30 at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Bell Village. The guests present on the occasion were the Chairperson of the Central Water Board, the UNDP Resident Representative in Mauritius, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research & Technology, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy & Public Utilities, the Minister of Environment and sustainable Development, representatives from different organizations and students from secondary schools and the University of Mauritius.

From the speech by the different guest speakers, the message that was conveyed to the audience was that there is a linkage between water and food security, and agricultural production taking up maximum amount of water (up to 70% globally and 43% in Mauritius), which requires proper water management. Moreover, being a Small Island Developing State, Mauritius is facing challenges like climate change and over the past years, our rainfall pattern has changed. We have recently experienced a drought from October to January and our reservoirs are still not filled to capacity. Without water, there cannot be food production and without food, we cannot survive. In the coming years, we will have to feed more people as a result of a growing population and what is needed are actions from each one of us should contribute to conserve water. Some of these actions on how to save water HERE.

The UNDP resident representative, Mrs. Leyla Tegmoreddy highlighted that in Mauritius, 99.6% of the population have access to water. In agriculture, we should see how food losses can be reduced along the value-chain (post-harvest, transport, storage, etc.). The Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research & Technology, Dr. the Hon. Rajesh Jeetah laid emphasis upon small actions that we can take to conserve water (closing the tap while brushing our teeth) and on education, which he believes is the key to solve this problem as proper education will enable each one of us to take actions. On the other hand, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy & Public Utilities, Dr. the Hon. Rashid Beebeejaun encouraged youths present at the ceremony to go back to the soil and start cultivating crops like coriander and other herbs, and to encourage people around us to do so. 

There was also the prize giving ceremony to the winners of the drawing and project competitions  launched in the context of the World Water Day. 

Exhibition on Food and Water Security
Various organizations participated in the exhibition on Food and Water Security, namely the Central Water Authority (CWA), the Mauritius Meteorological Station, the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, the Irrigation Authority, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, the Agricultural Research and Extension (AREU), and the Faculty of Agriculture of University of Mauritius (FOA).

In general, there were interesting information that were present on the different posters, leaflets  and exhibits, but there are some exhibits in particular that caught my attention:

  • Rain water harvesting model by the Central Water Authority
Rain water harvesting model for households
As shown in the picture, a gutter is connected to the roof of the house and the rain water collected is stored in a tank. This water can be used for doing domestic works, irrigating the lawn or washing the car.
  • Rain water harvesting model by the agricultural Research and Extension Unit
Rain water harvesting model for agriculture
This model has the same concept from the previous one, but adapted for agricultural purposes. Rain water can be harvested from roof of houses or greenhouses. The water is collected in the same way in the tank, but this one also has a drip irrigation system connected in it, where the water can be used for irrigation.
  • Other Exhibits by the Faculty of Agriculture

a) Treating waste water using phyto-remediation plants

Phyto-remediation plants to treat waste water

b) Hydroponic system for efficient use of water

Hydroponic System

c) Use of lysimeter for efficient use of water

Lysimeter for monitoring of water losses

d) Re-forestation concept to attract rainfall and fill our reservoirs

Re-forestation model

e) Aquaponic system to rear aquatic animals and grow crops at the same time

Aquaponic model

f) Aeroponic system for efficient use of water and nutrients

Aeroponic model

g) Use of Edible seaweeds to remove nitrate from lagoon

Use of edible seaweeds model

h) Use of river water for prawn farming

The model for use of river water for prawn farming

I have learned a lot today in this exhibition and was really impressed by the work done by the students of the Faculty of Agriculture. You guys have lots of talent and kudos for this awesome work! Let’s act now and contribute in conserving water!

More pictures of the event in the slide-show below:

About Nawsheen Hosenally

Nawsheen Hosenally, a national of the Republic of Mauritius, has over 6 years of experience in the agricultural sector, specifically focusing on the engagement of youth in agriculture through the use of ICTs. Currently, Nawsheen is the co-Founder of Agribusiness TV, a web TV that features success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa. Nawsheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Mauritius, and a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Manchester.

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