Participants at a workshop on water accounts and statistics in Mauritius. - Photo: Ricardo Martinez-Lagunes/UNDESA


At a recent workshop on water accounts and statistics, Mauritius shared their draft water accounts that show that even though Mauritius receives a considerable amount of precipitation, it sometimes lacks water for a country with a population density of more than 600 inhabitants per square kilometer (much higher than any European country).

The workshop was held May 8-10 and brought together participants from the National Statistics Offices and water or environment ministries or agencies from Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It was held in the Republic of Mauritius, a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), located in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The workshop stimulated a productive dialogue among the participants, which are at different levels in the development of their accounts. It was jointly organized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) in partnership with the Division of Sustainable Development, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and the World Bank.

The draft water accounts of Mauritius were shared among the participants, and used in the discussions to identify the key policy information that can be derived from the accounts. SADC has plans to continue supporting the countries in the region on the development of their accounts and collaboration among countries.

The preliminary water accounts of Mauritius are the result of collaboration between different agencies of the Government of Mauritius, which include, Statistics Mauritius, the Water Resources Unit, the Central Water Authority, and the Wastewater Management Authority, among others.

As much as 70% of precipitation in Mauritius occurs during the summer, and this water is hard to harness with the small artificial storage capacity of the country, so most of it immediately runs off to the sea unused. During the winter months there is harsh competition between the different users of water. Often, some hydroelectric plants have to stop producing energy during the winter months, due to the lack of water.

The Government of Mauritius has invested an average of 0.6% of the GDP in the drinking water supply, sewage and wastewater sector, in order to cope with the growing needs of water and sanitation by the growing economy of Mauritius. More investments are needed in reducing losses of water in the drinking water supply networks, which lose nearly 50% of the water pumped into them. The goal is to half that loss in the next five years, bringing it to an internationally acceptable level of 25%.

Workshops on water accounts and statistics are organized by the UNSD in close collaboration with the regional commissions and (sub) regional agencies in the context of the implementation strategy of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts - Water (SEEA-Water). The SEEA-Water  was adopted as an international standard for water accounts by the United Nations Statistics Commission.