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Enviro Blog Post 2: Weather Gone Wild: Mauritian edition

24 Apr

Among the material and concepts we went over when we were going over Module 2 in class, we went over humanity’s carbon footprint and we watched documentaries such as “Weather Gone Wild” and “Do the Math”. The films explored issues like recent extreme weather conditions, expectations of future natural disasters, requirements for the survival of our society, the carbon cycle and the huge negative impact of fossil fuel companies on the planet’s equilibrium. As much as they tried to be global, the documentaries’ main focus was on North America but I could not help but apply all this information to my country, Mauritius.

mauritius aaaaaa

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. With 2040 km² area of land and a population of approximately 1.3 million, Mauritius is my home. Many may not know about my country but we rank 1st in Africa for Economic Freedom, Global Economic Competitiveness, Global Innovation, Peace, Democracy, ICT Development, Environmental Performance and Social Progress among others. Mauritius is one of the most successful stories among the developing countries, yet I am worried about its future. Despite our general success, we have been classified as ‘Highly Vulnerable’ by the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission and the United Nations Environment Program. The latter program has added that the island is vulnerable to “considerable economic loss, humanitarian stresses and environmental degradation as a result of climate change impacts.”

There is no denying that Mauritius has recently been experiencing extreme weather. The events of March 30, 2013 got us featured on international news: in less than 2 hours, over 150mm of rain fell on the capital, that is more than half of the average expected rainfall for the whole month of March. These torrential rains caused flash floods that killed 11 people, injured around a hundred and caused thousands of dollars of damage.


Who was to blame for this disaster? The Ministry of Public Infrastructure for the poorly designed drains and roads? The Meteorological station for failing to predict the intensity and destructiveness of the rain? The population for the insane littering that blocked the drains? The Government for failing to create a recycling campaign to prevent the littering in the first place? None of them are responsible for the weather itself, that would be the effect of climate change on the weather patterns of the island. However, the disaster is not the flood. The real disaster is the deaths and all the damage that could- and should- have been avoided. This is the real cost of climate change and the Government as well as the people are equally responsible and simultaneously, the ones coping with most of the cost. It would be logical to assume that after two years of ‘March Torrential Rain Madness’ the population and the authorities would be better prepared, yet it happened again this year, once again exposing the limitations of the infrastructure and of the Disaster Management Committee. Once again, thousands of dollars worth of damage was caused.


The United Nations Development Program has predicted that the direct climate change impacts likely to adversely affect Mauritius include an increase in the frequency of intense rainfall episodes, sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimeters by 2100 and an increase in intensity of tropical cyclones. Mauritius knows how to deal with cyclones, it is one of the best-prepared countries in the world when it comes to cyclones but the same cannot be said when it comes to floods and landslides, our recent threats. No, we cannot stop the rain from falling but we can change how we deal with the rain just like we learnt how to deal with cyclones before. Adaptation is the key issue we share with the rest of the world. It is the only way to protect the Mauritian people and property from the devastating effect of climate change. Most of our population are still ignorant about the phenomenon of climate change and its related impacts and issues. An ignorant population makes us more vulnerable to climate change and ignorant stubborn leaders who refuse to face the inevitable makes us the most vulnerable. Climate change is an issue of national security, people’s lives are at stake, it is time for real actions to be taken. The waning sewage, drain, land transport and electrical systems are becoming obsolete and have to be upgraded- and not simply repaired- to ensure a safer future for Mauritians. Mauritians, themselves, have to become more self-aware of the consequences of their actions, such as littering.

dirty mauritius

I’ve had enough of seeing this after every big flood.

Adaptation is not the only key to rising up to the challenge of climate change for Mauritius. As a developing country, we barely have a say in international climate change debates and we are not big contributors to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, however that does not exempt us from advancing in the direction of mitigation. In Mauritius, thermal plants fueled by diesel oil are responsible for more than 80% of electrical power generation, while hydroelectric power and bagasse generates the remaining 20%. However, in a developing country, the demand for energy keeps increasing and in the recent years some private investors have designed and have been trying to implement the CT Power project- a coal based energy generating system. It is a well known scientific fact that coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, yet the promoters of this project assured Mauritians that coal could be as clean as it is cheap and that there was no real threat to the environment. The ignorant, greedy and debt-ridden Government of the country had no choice but to give the project the green light. Fortunately, the population’s indignation and a change in Government this year, spelt the end of CT power and I could not be prouder. This is a huge step in mitigation for Mauritius. It harmonizes perfectly with the construction and design of all new buildings to be self-providing in electricity through solar panels. Yet, despite our efforts, Mauritius will suffer more from climate change than bigger countries simply because we are a developing country and an island nation.


Yes it’s unfair and that is why the people of Mauritius, my people, have to strive exceptionally hard in respect to mitigation and adaptation so that we can become resilient to most of the impacts of climate change. We are a small nation, it is easier to take decisions and to work for the good of the whole population and sustain everyone; we could be an example of resilience. To achieve this we have to make changes now, before climate change catches up on us entirely and brings about the end of our paradise.


We are the change

23 Jun

My friend Ana is new on WordPress- yes even more “new” than me ^^
And she wrote this really nice article about something that is going way too wrong in Mauritius and, undoubtedly, throughout the world too. And since I share her views on the matter, I’m sharing her thoughts with you:

Red Scripts


Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye. – Helen Keller

From the first days of our socialization into this wide, wide world, we have been taught things that were supposed to make us grow up into better individuals. We were introduced to the notion of politeness and were sanctioned if we were rude. Respect and integrity were displayed everywhere, in movies and newspapers, as virtues that anyone should have if we wanted to be honest and responsible citizens of this ‘perfect’ world. We were shaped to fit. And those who didn’t went straight to the societal trash.


But, as a child, I did not understand any of that, because I was still learning the notion of right and wrong. However, some less glorious qualities still  confused me. I did not understand the word ‘jealousy’. I did not know that I had to…

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Mauritius These Days..

1 Apr

Saturday 30th March 2013 was one of the darkest ever in our Mauritian history. Two hours of rain. 116 millimeters of rain. Flooding everywhere. The capital paralyzed. Dozens of vehicles collided with each other. Over 11 deaths. What had the weather station predicted? “Un temps mi-couvert.” Who are they kidding?

It has been 10 years that our weather station is working without radar. They think it’s a waste of money to invest in such technologies. The waste of money is their paycheck. Paid to predict yesterday’s weather? Even I can do that. Anyone can do that. The thing is anyone does not have the authority to act in such situation. Unfortunately in Mauritius, those with authority act like taking actions is not their responsibility. Let’s blame climatic changes, won’t we? But the weather is not the point. How to deal with the weather is what is important. We’ve had big problems with rain since 2008 and not many useful actions have been taken. There’s just so many things that got me outraged. The weather station, the lack of preventive actions, the people.


Saturday we had torrential rain, there’s no denying. Then why did the weather station not give the warning? It shocks me to know that the big bosses down there at the station believe that a warning of torrential rain is only applicable on a school day. Does this mean that they truly believe that only students are affected by rain and floods? Is the rest of the population not human and mortal? Are they not also supposed to take precautions in such a situation? I don’t understand what these guys were thinking. Like a cyclone affects a whole country, so does torrential rain. It is not about going to school or not! This is about national security! It’s about the population’s safety! Is such a concept so hard to grasp?

Now some people are defending the station, saying this rain was the result of climatic change and could not be predicted. But excuse me, clouds do not just pop up like this and start letting down huge amounts of water on a country? These clouds can be seen on radars and satellite maps. Rain is not something unpredictable to this point. Moreover- and I know it’s another debate and I’m getting off topic but- we’ve seen it’s snowing in March in Europe and now there’s this terribly whimsical and deadly weather here, don’t we see that it’s human activity that’s causing all that? Climatic changes are the result of global warming which is consequently the result of  humans still not getting that preservation of nature is important. Clean energy sources have to be used! Honestly, building a coal power plant is barely helping.

What is interesting about people in Mauritius- I’m not saying everybody is like this but it’s a sad reality in Mauritius- is their lack of concern for their environment. In LeMauricien, Yan de Maroussem said “Je suis chagriné par le manque de respect des Mauriciens pour la nature. Dans Maurice Ile Durable, on trouve encore dans les forêts et sur les montagnes des paquets de snacks, des canettes ou des bouteilles de boissons gazeuses jetées après consommation.” Well, so am I. It’s not only about nature though, it’s about their whole environment. If you have been around Port-Louis after the flooding then you would have seen all the piles of rubbish that have accumulated after the water has dried up. Yes it is the government’s responsibility to clean the drains and streets but it is our responsibility as citizens to keep these clean as much as possible. It’s high time we stop asking what the country can do for us and do what we can for our country. Note I said “country” not “government”. Yes, most of our canalization system is inadequate but let’s face it. The main reason why they blocked is all the rubbish that has been thrown into them for the past weeks, months, maybe even years. People have been acting irresponsibly, throwing plastic bottles, food wrappings and other rubbish in the streets and in the drains. Dustbins seem to be an obsolete concept to some people. Whenever and wherever they are when they finish their food they simply throw the wrapping where they are. Right there on the streets. Maybe they think that there are people paid to clean the streets or that no matter what the wind and rain will eventually get rid of the mess but no, that’s not how things work in a civilized country. In a civilized country when people go on a pilgrimage they do not leave their used plastic cups in the drains. In a civilized country people take care of their country because they know that their actions are going to have a consequence some day. The consequence of not using dustbins being blocking the drains. Yet in Mauritius, it’s too easy to pollute. Not much is being done, no real actions are being taken against irresponsible citizens. Too often it seems that the Environment Police is sleeping. “To  zeT to taC“? Doesn’t look like those polluting are being caught at all. Why are the authorities so idle when it comes to our environment? Today we have seen that it is not only a matter of cleanliness, it’s also a matter of safety. We have clearly seen that we are not safe in this country. Too often our safety have been disregarded by those in power, by those for whom only power really matters.


Nevertheless it’s wonderful to see how many people have already gathered to help, how many people are donating, cleaning and helping in any humanely possible way. It shows how Mauritius is truly a united and strong nation. People are acting selflessly to help those in need. Then why can’t we behave this way everyday? Do we always have to be in the wake of a catastrophe for us to act like a nation? Do we have to go through horrors to understand that selfishness will get us nowhere? Please tell me that we have all finally woken up and that from now on we will all behave like responsible and educated citizens. All over the news, on T.V, in the newspapers and even on Facebook people are blaming the government. They are revolting, saying they want change, big change. The change we need is the change in mentality within Mauritians’ mind. Within every Mauritian mind. We don’t need the government to change ourselves. Let us be the change. Let us become the paradise that tourists believe we are.

Let us not make the deaths of innocents be in vain. For Sylvia Wright, Jeffrey Wright, Trishul Tiwari, Amrish Tiwari, Keshav Ramdhary, Toolsiram Rendharee, Vikesh Khoosye, Retnon Sithanen, Christabelle Moorghen and the others which I don’t know the names yet(sorry), for them let us become a united and responsible nation. Let their souls rest in peace and let their memories be our motivation.