Several schools had to close Thursday, September 21 in Mayotte because of the impossibility of providing drinking water to students, we learned from the rectorate of this French archipelago in the Indian Ocean which is sinking into a serious water crisis.
According to the regional health agency (ARS), analyzes have reported a non-compliance of the quality of the water, considered unfit for consumption in the municipalities of Petite-Terre and on the outskirts of Mamoudzou, capital of the archipelago, in Grande-Terre.
The poorest department of France is undergoing its worst drought since 1997, while its supply depends largely on rainwater. Rainfall deficits are aggravated by a lack of infrastructure and investment in a territory that, under pressure from illegal immigration, particularly from neighbouring Comoros, is experiencing population growth of 4% per year.
To deal with this, the state has intensified water cuts in recent months. Since the beginning of September, the population of Mayotte (310,000 inhabitants on January 1, 2023, according to INSEE) has been deprived of water two days out of three. On Thursday, authorities closed schools where it was no longer possible to provide clean water to students. "We closed middle and high schools at midday," said the rector of the academy of Mayotte, Jacques Mikulovic, who cited at least five colleges and two high schools concerned. Two high schools that were able to distribute water remained open.
This alert worries us, it is the second on the territory. We have set up a follow-up committee to inform staff of the situation but we hope for a return to normal very quickly, "continued the rector.
In Petite-Terre, Labattoir 3 elementary school sent children home mid-morning, according to a parent delegate. "From now on, we are offered pedagogical continuity from 7:00 to 9:30 am only. Except that the parents work, "says this mother, Laetitia, who did not give her name. For the rectorate, the challenge is now to anticipate "possible long-term inconformities" in water quality. "We will equip ourselves with equipment, from metropolitan France, to distribute drinking water to students," says the rector, who also plans to set up an alternation of students to relieve overcrowding in schools, overcrowded.