Member of the National Assembly for Baie Lazare,
Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture,
Representatives of various Ministries and institutions,
Chairperson of the Farmers Association,
Members of the Baie Lazare watershed Committee
Good morning and a special welcome to the launching ceremony.
On 22nd of March, we celebrate World Water Day. World water day is an event which is celebrated around the world and the day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Each year the United Nations propose a theme corresponding to a current or future challenge. The theme for the year is “Leave no one behind”!
You may recall in 2018, the Ecosystem Based Adaptation or EBA Project launched the first water retention barrage using gabion and rocks at Bougainville, Baie Lazare. The project was the first of its kind and the barrage has the capacity to hold 35,000 cubic metres of water.
Almost a year later, we are gathered here at Dame le Roi to witness the launching of the second barrage with the capacity to hold 6000 cubic metres. It will assist the farmers of Baie-Lazare to adapt to drought induced by Climate change.
We can all stand firm and confess that this nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approach can be used to construct natural water reserves in our water catchments in Seychelles. It has shown to work but it takes a lot of efforts and courage to make it happen.
Do you know what this place was like before??
Some of you do, whilst others don’t. This water source was affected by pollution from sediment washdown and from nearby development. It was abandoned due to pollution and a proliferation of invasive plants. Even though the basin is now man-made, it is now a functioning entire ecosystem that will benefit the farming community.
The EBA project has restored the site and in collaboration with the Baie-Lazare watershed committee, Val Den Dor youth and school students enhanced its beauty by revegetating with native plants species. You have all worked tirelessly to realise this project.
This method of soft engineering demonstrates that it is possible to use our natural resources to provide natural solutions to the water scarcity issue faced by the farmers and other water users in the country. It will ensure that water is available during the dry periods and the water will be retained for longer periods in the watershed.
The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change would like to maintain collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, SAA and COMESA project to ensure that no one gets left behind. Given that water is a finite resource, we need to ensure that we all use it sustainably. Let us appreciate its value and the important role it plays in our lives.
Let us reflect and take positive action towards making Seychelles a water-secure country. I would like to thank the EBA project team, in particular Johan Mendez the project hydrologist, Pascal Octave the contractor and team, as well as the pool of private contractors who were trained to partake in this barrage construction.
I extend a special thanks to the Baie Lazare Watershed committee who has worked tirelessly at both sites, and the School of Information and Technology for sending their students to enlist in the gabion barrage construction training.
You have all made this project a reality!
It is now your duty to take care of this natural asset through collaborative management with all project partners.
It gives me great pleasure as Minister for the Environment to officially declare this new water barrage open.