Drinking water in the Seychelles, currently threatened by irregular rainfall and longer dry periods, will be secured through an investment programme backed by EUR 27 million European Investment Bank funding. Planned upgrades to the island’s water network will also protect water cleanliness with new sewer facilities and measures to reduce water loss.
Funding for the project was formally agreed today during a signing ceremony in Port Victoria attended by representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Public Utilities Corporation, The European Union and European Investment Bank. British and French Ambassadors were also in attendance, as well as representatives from the Agence Française de Développement, who will be co-financing the investments.
The Seychelles water and sanitation programme will help the Seychelles Public Utilities Corporation to alleviate water shortages through renewal and expansion of water supply on the 3 main islands to reduce water loss, improve energy efficiency and increase resilience of water supply to an increasingly uncertain climate and less predictable rainfall patterns. Upgrading existing sewage facilities on Mahé and construction of new sanitation infrastructure on La Digue will reduce the risk of the contamination of groundwater used for drinking water. The scheme will also contribute to improving environmental and natural disaster risk management, and overall water management.
“European funding and technical assistance will ensure the supply of clean water on the Seychelles for years to come. The European Investment Bank recognises the diverse technical challenges required by small islands to mitigate against a changing climate.” said Plutarchos Sakellaris, European Investment Bank Vice President.
''Addressing the drinking water supply situation is of great importance for the population of the Seychelles, as well as for sustaining its economy which is in a very good recovery phase'' said Alessandro Mariani, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation to Seychelles. He also took the opportunity to emphasize the exemplary relations between Seychelles and the European Union. ''They are excellent. The quality of the dialogue between the EU and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Government of Seychelles is the key for such good relations and results'' he said.
“We welcome this assistance which will greatly enhance our efforts in ensuring that we always have good infrastructure to support growth and improve our quality of life” said Ahmed Afif, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Finance.
Specific projects to benefit from the programme include an extensive programme to reduce non-revenue water, including both technical and commercial losses, increasing the capacity of 4 existing desalination plants on Mahé, La Digue and Praslin, improvements to the Hermitage and Cascade water treatment plants, a first time sewerage system in La Digue and extensions to the Mahé sewerage network. The water network will also be rationalised to improve pressure management and reduce leakages.
European Development Fund grants will support preparations to improve energy efficiency, water demand and resource management and disaster planning linked to the investment programme. In addition, grants will be provided for a capacity building programme at the Public Utilities Corporation, as well as a substantial interest rate subsidy to reduce the cost of financing to the Seychelles. In total, grants of over EUR 7 million are foreseen to support the programme of investments and are blended with the EUR 27 million loan of the EIB.
The project represents the first European Investment Bank supported water project in Africa that specifically focuses on reducing the threat and ensuring long-term preparation for climate change. The initiative will both seek to avoid a water crisis that could pose a serious threat to economic activity and better manage waste water to avoid health risks and water contamination. In 2011 water shortages hampered by a severe drought and limited water supply led to supply being restricted to a few hours a day.
European Investment Bank funding will represent around 41% of the overall project costs. Other support is expected from the Government of the Seycelles and the Public Utilities Corporation, as well as the European Development Fund, African Water Facility grant, Agence Francaise de Developpement and African Development Bank.