Monthly water accounts revealed water scarcity at the end of the winter season
Approximately 35-40% of the produced drinking water is lost
The current pricing is not adequate to finance long term investments in the water sector in Mauritius
This might also be explained by a flawed governance structure of the water sector on the island.
The sustainability of the provision of water is a major issue in Mauritius. In 2013, it received 3821 million cubic metres of precipitation of which 70% was available for exploitation through surface run-off and ground water. About 8% of water available is abstracted by the water supply industry. There is no apparent reason for water scarcity on the Island. Yet, these figures mask significant water shortages which are being witnessed continuously in many parts of the island, especially at the end of the winter season. According to estimations, physical losses account for 35-40% of produced drinking water that is lost. Another 10-15% are commercial losses due to defective metres, illegal connections etc.
What is the current water situation in Mauritius in relation to the total amount of rainfall, storage, water consumption? What are the likely impacts of population and economic growth on water demand in the future? What would be the shortages of water when accounting for climate change impacts? Why is there such a gap between portable water and water consumption? There is a need to either repair existing pipe network or to construct new storage system. And huge amount of investment in the water sector is needed. Yet another question is whether the current pricing policy is economically sustainable?
To answer these questions, three sets of analysis are proposed: an assessment of the water situation through the lens of water accounts; an analysis of water trends, economic value and future water shortages with due consideration of climate change impacts; and a critical analysis of governance issues in the water sector.
The study estimates the price elasticity of demand in residential and non-residential sectors at -0.16% and -0.72% and a corresponding income elasticity of 0.23 and 0.39. A survey was also conducted on water use at household level. It was observed that around 43% of households adopted adaptation strategy to water shortages, such as water tank and pump. The study also forecasts demand for water under three economic growth scenarios (2%, 5.5% and 7%) for the period 2015-2030, and concludes a respective rise of 16.3%, 38% and 50.7% by 2030 from the current level.
Combining climate change scenarios, water shortages in the range of 19Mm3 to 52Mm3 is expected in 2030. Potential remedies include constructing additional storage systems and reducing distributional loss from piped networks. The study concludes that with a price inelasticity of demand, the pricing policy may be more effective if it raises revenue rather than curbs demand, in the long run. However, the current pricing policy is far from being effective in funding long-term investment projects, since there is a dichotomy between the distribution and storage of water. Therefore, improvement in the water sector necessitates a restructuring of tariffs in different sectors together with new roles of institutions in raising revenues.
The current governance system is unlikely to facilitate such transition. Thus, the second part of this report explores water sector governance in Mauritius. It elaborates on the nature of this governance and develops a framework that allows drawing the micro-institutional setting of water actors according to the distribution of tasks among them. This setting is further analyzed to tentatively explore the sustainability considerations of the various water actors. Several aspects of Mauritian water sector governance put sustainability at stake. A recently elaborated National Water Policy might be a turning point if the new Government displays the necessary political will.
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