Water ressources sector


Madagascar is characterized by a variety of rivers and streams that drain primarily along the west coast. These freshwater habitats, together with a number of lakes, provide important resources for human populations – i.e. freshwater sources for domestic use, fisheries, and irrigation for agriculture – as well as for ecosystems.

Freshwater resources and the surrounding ecosystems are currently highly threatened by human practices, such as deforestation, a situation that is exacerbated by the fact that conservation and land use planning has not been carried out from a watershed perspective. At a human level, access to freshwater sources, a vital commodity for daily life remains low. Approximately 50% of households have access to an improved water source and 34% have access to improved sanitation.

Potential Impacts

Effects on the large-scale hydrological cycle are central to the changes likely to be brought about by climate change. At the national level climate change impacts on the water resources sector are likely to occur as a result of both climate variability – particularly changes in the level and distribution of precipitation - and extreme climate events, including increased incidence and intensity of cyclones, drought and flooding. The Irodo River, rivers draining the Tsaratanana Massif, rivers draining the Masoala Peninsula, rivers in eastern rainforests and rivers draining the Andohahela region have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to Madagascar & Western Indian Ocean Programme climate change.
The southern region of Madagascar is sensitive to increased incidence of droughts. Potential impacts include:

Damage to water resources infrastructure from cyclones, flooding or sea level rise. This could include effects on water storages, water supply infrastructure or wastewater infrastructure.

Increased water stress and reduced availability of water for ecosystem and human needs as a result of changed rainfall patterns, river flows, lake levels and groundwater recharge rates. The southern regions of Madagascar, which already suffer from water shortages, are likely to be lost affected by increased water stress. Droughts are likely to be become more frequent in this region with resulting effects on ecosystems, livelihoods and human health.

Pollution of water resulting in ecosystem and human health impacts resulting from increased water temperatures, sedimentation of waterways, or liberation of contaminated sediments during flooding. Increased pollution can result in risks to human health as well as effects on natural ecosystems.

Salinity intrusion in surface water and groundwater resulting from sea level rise in coastal areas could affect availability of freshwater supplies for human use and agricultural activities as well as changing the suitability of freshwater habitats for certain species.

Damage to freshwater ecosystems and resulting impacts on ecosystem services resulting from water pollution, changes in environmental flows, salinity increases or sedimentation.

Loss of flood control ability in rivers as a result of changes to high flows and increased precipitation could affect human security and downstream infrastructure.

Social conflict and disruption could result due to increased competition for access to water.

Priority Actions

Climate change adaptation measures are required to increase the resilience of the water resources sector to future climate conditions. Both demand side and supply side adaptation measures are required to be implemented within an integrated water resources management framework. Due to the linkages to numerous other sectors, water resources adaptation strategies must be developed from a holistic, multi-sector perspective. Examples of adaptation approaches that should be considered for implementation in the water resources sector in Madagascar include:
• Water demand management strategies to increase water use efficiency across all sectors. Examples include increased efficiency of water use in agricultural activities through improved irrigation systems or adoption of modified agricultural practices, education of water users, or development of water recycling schemes.

• Development and implementation of basin wide water management strategies and policies that take into account the full range of environmental and human demands on water, and the associated ecosystem services and identify integrated solutions and institutional frameworks for the management of water resources.

• Assistance to farmers to protect livelihoods in areas of existing and future drought and low soil fertility through introduction of drought resistance crops, or training to allow diversification of livelihood strategies.

• Protection and restoration of watersheds and wetlands to protect water resources and related ecosystems services, including flood control. This includes ‘re-greening’ of urban watercourses where possible to increase resilience of urban areas.

• Identification of new sources of freshwater for affected populations such as introduction of rainwater harvesting schemes in salinity affected areas.

• Improvements to water resources infrastructure including upgraded or new water storages or water supply infrastructure or climate proofing of existing infrastructure.

• Improved institutional management of water resources through allocation of water user rights, or development of economic mechanisms such as water markets.