French island Mayotte survives on bottled water in century's worst drought

NOV 5, 2023 LISTEN

The French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte will this month begin distributing bottled water to its 310,000 residents as the region faces its worst drought this century.

The archipelago, the lowest-income region in France where most people live below the poverty line, depends on rain for its drinking water.

However rainfall has been at its lowest level since 1997.

France's Minister for Overseas Territories, Philippe Vigier, has said that each inhabitant would be entitled to one litre of bottled drinking water per day starting from 20 November.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, two litres of water per day are considered an adequate intake for women, and 2.5 litres for men.

The French Army launched Operation Maji and organised 82 water collection points, according to the website of France's Defence Ministry.

The archipelago has been facing severe water restrictions since September, and the government has already been supplying bottled water daily to the 50,000 most vulnerable inhabitants.

Preschools and primary schools will be the first to benefit from the extra water deliveries.

Mayotte's daily water needs are estimated at around 43,000 cubic metres, but supply is currently down to 26,000 on average.

This will drop to or below 20,000 cubic metres per day once the remaining reserves in Mayotte's artificial lakes run out.

(with newswires)