MAURITIUS – The government of Mauritius has secured a US$500,000 emergency assistance grant from the African Development Bank to support international clean-up efforts after a significant oil spill earlier this year off the coast of East African country.
The funding, to be sourced from the Special Relief Fund, will complement ongoing activities by the government of Mauritius, development partners, and other actors involved in the salvaging and cleaning operations.
It will also be used to conduct damage and loss assessments, along with other socio-economic evaluations.
Martin Fregene, AfDB Bank Director for Agriculture & Agro-industry noted that the survival of Mauritian marine ecology which is so important for livelihoods in the blue economy and tourism sectors was under threat after the unfortunate oil spill.
“The $500,000 emergency assistance grant from the African Development Bank to Mauritius is an important contribution to the International Recovery effort towards restoring the pristine marine ecology.”Martin Fregene – AfDB Bank Director for Agriculture & Agro-industry.
More than 1,000 tons of oil have leaked into the Indian Ocean since a carrier vessel ran aground off the Mauritius coast on 25 July.
Rescue teams have however been able to successfully pump out about 3,800 tons of oil that were aboard, preventing further damage to the marine environment.
Following the spillage, the government of Mauritius has declared a state of emergency and has ordered fishermen and citizens to stay away from the beaches and lagoons around the communities of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.
The oil spill adversely affected the Mauritian economy which is heavily dependent on the blue economy and has resulted in health, conservation and economic challenges.
Mauritius relies heavily on its ocean, particularly for food and tourism, and its coastline has some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs.
The general population remains at ongoing risk of severe illness from petroleum and its associated pollutants.
The country had hoped to reopen its borders to tourists following a successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the spill has delayed those plans, further impacting the sector which was already suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations has assumed a lead role in coordinating the response with France, India, and Japan sending marine experts and equipment to help Mauritius manage the oil spill.