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Frontpage News 2017 Malta is surrounded by water, but can’t get enough of it

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Fishingboats at the harbour of Marsaxlokk, in the south east region of Malta. Photo credit: Flickr, Sandra Whiteway

Malta is surrounded by water, but can’t get enough of it

  • How can an island in the middle of the ocean get enough fresh water? By taking good care of the scarce amount of water that nature provides.

    Malta is facing serious challenges with its water resources. The island's natural fresh water supply is the groundwater, replenished by rainfall. In dry periods as much as 70 % of the island experience water stress, according to Eurostat.

    Risk of water crisis

    For the Maltese people it’s extremely important to take care of the water resources that exist, and reuse when possible, a message that is now being taught to young people at the new ‘Malta Water Conservation Awareness Centre’.

    danielbalzn-39.jpg2 Interactive learning for children at the new awareness centre. Photo credit: Daniel Balzn
     

    Due to the constant threat of resource depletion, Malta is extremely vulnerable to water crises. This is why the establishment of the ‘Malta Water Conservation Awareness Centre’ has been so crucial for shedding light on the issue.

    Through this project, supported by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the aim has been to establish an information centre that focus on water conservation and management, as well as geology, meteorology and archaeology.

    Playground and weather station

    The centre has become an educational hub, equipped with a number of facilities that offer state of the art information tools. It has an interactive education arena, a playground, a weather station and a large open-air arena for art exhibitions, lectures and other large gatherings.

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    “The centre’s aim is to compliment educational activities related to water conservation management and build on what is already being taught in schools. It offers a wide range of games and activities, suitable for different age groups, that provide participants with extensive information about the challenges facing Malta’s water sector,” says Manuel Sapiano, Chief Technical Officer (Water) in the Sustainable Energy and Water Conservation Unit (SEWCU) within Malta’s Ministry for Energy and Health.

    danielbalzn-36.jpg2 Young people at Malta gets valuable information about the island's water supply at the new centre. Photo credit: Daniel Balzn
     

    Discovered history

    Additionally, the centre is also an arena for teaching children about Maltese history and culture. During the development of the project, a major archaeological discovery was made in the area of where the centre was being constructed. Remnants of an old road used during the Roman Empire was found and has become part of the centre’s exhibition.  

    “The games have been tailored to the functions of the centre. It is a mix of digital e-learning and interactive activities in the centre’s many large open spaces. We see that this type of interactive education has a significant effect on children’s ability to acquire knowledge,” says Manuel.

    Family centre

    The centre is not only available to school children, but open to families on the weekends as well. Since its opening it has had over 5000 visitors. “The exceptional education tools offered by the centre could not have been developed without the funding from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. These tools have been absolutely necessary in raising the public’s awareness of Malta’s challenges with water conservation and management,” says Manuel.

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  • Country:

    Malta


    Project title:

    Malta Water Conservation Awareness Centre

    Project number:

    MT02-0006

    Priority sector:

    Environmental Protection and Management

    Grant:

    € 806287

    Status:

    In Progress

    Project promoter:

    The Sustainable Energy and Water Conservation Unit

    Type of Institution:

    Government ministry

    Project duration:

    19 months

    Project cost:

    € 1,779,841

    Grant from:

    EEA Grants

    The main idea behind this project is to generate public awareness, education and appreciation of Malta’s scarce natural inland water resource. An information resource centre, which will be constructed as part of the project, will be a first for Malta and will serve as a platform to raise local awareness on the challenges facing the water sector in Malta and the need for its conservation and management. This hopes to instil a culture change towards water conservation at a national level. The harvesting of runoff rainwater will be one of the key elements of this project and water reservoirs will be constructed for this purpose. Other elements within and around the centre include a water conservation and geological walk-through with information points, the installation of hydrological monitoring equipment and photovoltaic panels, the construction of wetland to treat greywater, installation of digital e-content in the Centre’s digital walkthrough for use by the general public and school students, other on-demand information content, as well as the setting up of an audio visual space for the projection of audiovisual productions on water resources management.