World water day 2016

Message Minister Didier Dogley, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change to commemorate World Water Day Tuesday 22nd March 2016

World Water Day is celebrated annually all over the world. The UN General Assembly designated 22 March every year as World Water Day to increase awareness among the world population about the importance of freshwater and to promote sustainable use of freshwater.

The theme of World Water Day 2016 “Water and Jobs” is designed to convey the message that fresh water in adequate quality and quantity has a crucial role to play in improving lives of workers and their families.

Across the world millions of people suffer from the adverse impact of water scarcity on their lives. Drought and other serious adverse weather conditions caused by climate change are expected to worsen water scarcity in many parts of the world. The current worsening droughts in parts of North America, Australia and Africa are a cause for serious concern for people living in those areas.

In Seychelles, we are fortunate to have almost continuous access to safe and a reliable supply of potable water at an affordable price even if we too suffer from a pronounced dry season. The government considers access to clean drinking water as a fundamental human right. Today, in Seychelles, 97% of households and businesses have access to treated water, a figure comparable to the most developed countries. The quality and reliability of water supply have continually been improving thanks to the intense investment in the water sector in the past years. In view of the importance of water in our lives my ministry will continue to assist PUC in its endeavor to improve the quality of services, which it provides to the population.

With the assistance of Government, PUC has made significant investment in the water sector in the past 3 years to improve the efficiency of operations and to raise the level of reliability and quality of services. Water loss in the distribution network has been reduced from 55% three years ago to 39% currently. The goal is to reduce it to 30% by December 2016 and further in the years to come. This trend will continue as we continue to invest in more water infrastructure to increase storage, improve treatment and replace old pipelines around the country.

PUC will embark towards the end of this year on the largest water project since the la Gogue Dam was built. It will raise the La Gogue Dam by 6 metres thereby increasing the storage capacity of fresh water by 500 000m³. This is the equivalent of 10 Rochon Dams. It will also be building a new water treatment plant in its vicinity.

Sustainable management of water resources is a key element in addressing the impact of water scarcity. While we have to ensure access to clean water for our growing population, we must also manage growing demand for water by increasing productivity and provide guidance for using it more efficiently. In that vein we will shortly launch a national water campaign to sensitize and help the population manage their water demand. In addition we will have a campaign on rainwater harvesting techniques and promote the low interest loan scheme, SEEREP, which provides loans for investments in domestic water storage. To give added impetus to this program, the Government has recently decided to increase the loan ceiling available under this program from SCR 100,000 to SCR 150,000 and to remove the need for borrowers to contribute2.5%. We must all understand that water is a limited resource and all efforts must be made to stop its wastage.

My ministry has initiated the process to review the National Water Policy and to upgrade the present River Committee into a River Board with increased functions to deal with water related issues.

I wish to salute all the men and women working in the water sector, who ensure that our population and visitors have permanently access to safe potable water. Their contribution is critical to the sustainable development of our country, in sustaining our livelihoods and in improving our quality of live.

As our water and waste water industries grow over the coming years, we will need to employ more people. We would like to invite talented and young people to consider taking a profession in these challenging sectors.

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