Water issues in your area?

Water is an issue for most expats and tourists as well.

This morning is the first really rainy day of the season which normally starts two months ago.  The weather has cooled off this morning and humidity low. 

Water for drinking,--- tourists and expats alike will buy water for about 75 cents for a 1 1/2 liter depending on the brand name. I treat myself to a few bottles of mineral water from time to time at about $1 for 1 1/2 liter.
Also any drink that has a fizz to it, is best bought in a plastic bottle because the glass bottles have a way of losing the gas. I have even seen store employees test the glass bottles ( for gas)  by twisting the top open and close--What are you doing!!!!  ( <---in my head I think that)

Even after 15 years here I will not drink water from the tap like the Malagasy do. I have seen Malagasy drink water from a muddy pool of water with zebu standing in the pool of water along side the road. They seem to fair well though. If any expats out there drink tap water let me know how you made out?. 

Here in Mahajanga, the government says they add some product to the water to help sanitize the water. Whatever that product is can be found after you boil the water and let it cool down for 24 hours and then you will see all these white flakes that have settled to the bottom of the pot.  This is why it is also never recommended you put tap water in your cars radiator.  This white stuff or product to sanitize water will build of over a year to about a quarter of an inch and stick to the bottom of the pot till it breaks off in chucks from time to time. So you really don't want that in the engine of your car. 

I can say it is not chlorine as there is no smell, but the school my children go to they do put some chlorine in the water at the pump and has a strong smell.  My children bring their own water.

I always use store bought water for my cars. I boil water in a separate pot and let cool over night and filter this water - twice- to get rid of most of those white flakes, which by the way you will not see unless you boil the water.  This was an issue once on the radio news a while back and I can say that after all these years that the white flakes can be zero in the filter water to a lot of heavy chunks and varies from day to day.

Now that today is rainy I am getting ready to collect rain water, as do my Malagasy neighbors . It is the best for drinking and cooking and bathing and for the cars or for just general washing around the house and saves money though my water bill per month is about $15.
I have plenty of empty plastic bottles around that I save because I do buy water, and mostly for the kids to drink, but we mostly use boiled water.

By the end of rainy season in April I can have a 250 extra liters of fresh rain water for drinking.
You could say this is just a hobby for me on rainy days.

Just to add to my post before the flood of responses come in,
I save water as that is an issue that concerns me,  I think this will be a major problem one day, even today actually as of now that the rainy season here is late by two months.  The wells of all my neighbors around my school have gone dry and they come to my deep well at the school and use it till it is all gone and the kids have nothing. We issue a notice that the neighbors can only take water in the evening after school hours and that creates problems and so the water wars are already here.   

In Mahajanga town I do get water to my house but sometimes water is cut off for a few hours once every two weeks, and more often in the months of July and August and last year up to three days for the cleaning of the pipes but mostly the cuts come when there are a large number of tourists, mostly domestic types that come to the seaside for vacation.  I always have a large 55 gallon drum of water for reserve for these cuts in water.

There are also wells in my neighborhood because water from the city can be expensive to be hooked up and there is the long time it takes to get hooked up with a normal application.  Not so sure that these wells are the best idea because many houses around here have septic holes in the ground for toilets and they are sure to  mingle with the drinking water.

As reported in Orange news   MadagascarLifestyle ‏@MadagascarLife

water cuts  more frequent  in the neighborhoods of Antananarivo. The can of 20 liters of drinking water  costs between 400 and 600 ariary.

Which makes the price at the pump carry away station at about 15 to 20 cents for 20 liters of drinking water

Here in Antananarivo we have heard reports that Jirama will cut the water supply very soon, if it doesn't start to rain. I have seen first hand that the Ikopa River and Lake Mandroseza (from where they draw the water for the water supply network) is nearly running dry. We have filled our little water tank and bought plenty of mineral water for storage. Hope it's going to rain soon! I'm sure there are a lot of people in this city who would suffer greatly from the water being turned off.


As this is my first full year in Madagascar, it is also the first time I experience a rainy season. I have to say that I was a little bit surprised - there's not that much water coming, and apparently not nearly as much as previous years. People tell me that it should be raining more at night, and sometimes raining for 2-3 days straight.

It is what it is, but I started getting slightly concerned when an old partner of mine who works for Farming and Technology in Africa told me that it will have huge consequences for this years rice harvest. Basically he says all the rice is practically already dead, dried out. He believes that 2017 will be the worst year yet for rice farming in Madagascar, and that they will have to import expensive rice from other countries. This would surely have consequences for the average Malagasy, who relies on his access to cheap rice, as it is what he serves for his family 3 times a day, 7 days a week.

Who else has thoughts on this issue? Is it really a dry year compared to previous? Should we be stockpiling some rice now to prepare for a bad harvest? Let me know what you guys think.


Rice production is a strange business. In most cases rice is about a year old as merchants will stockpile rice for almost a year so they can sell their rice at a profit during the no rice season around May June July.
At times the government has frowned on this practice by trying to regulate price but is just a hallow gesture.
Right now and this very minute of this writing, my maid told us that rice is selling at 7,500 FMG and the usual price is 5,500FMG per kilo.   
getting good perfume rice is difficult and 60 kilo bag will sell at about 800,000 FMG from north of Mahajanga.

Yes stock up now if you can but buy one bag at a time because rice dealers can make tricky by selling crappy rice in a what appears to be a good bag of rice. Such as rice that has lots of sand or small stones and rice husks that can add to the weight of the rice bag.
You will see that the merchants use a small funnel that pierce the bag of rice at different spots to show the rice is good and even quality throughout the bag.

As for rain---Mahajanga usually get a minimum of 65 inches a rain in a slow year but very often will get 100 inches or more for a normal year and at least one week to 10 days we will have real good rain falls that helps in getting that 50 to 65 inches and we should have had this already in December/ January. Small cyclones and tropical storms in the area that drift over the island help in getting the rainfall to the important rainfall number of 100 inches and more like 120 to 140 inches.  My experience comes from over 15 years, and  my wife explains this to me from her experience of 40 years and lessons learned from her parents and grandparents.   

I am guessing a bit here but I would say we have only had 15 to 20 inches of rain at this time. And the rainy season for Mahajanga is coming to a close at the end of March, beginning of April---then dry for the most part till next Nov.
I also have noticed that the winds over the Mozambique have not shifted like they normally do this time of year to produce strong winds from mainland Africa to Madagascar carrying rain and tropical storms our way. 
You can see some of the weather patterns from a fellow ex pat Lilbuster who posted this website to track weather.

I did read an article that said that Madagascar was the country 3rd on the list for climate change and lack of rainfall for this year, though I did not bookmark that article. 

Cheap  crappy rice, broken bits of rice,  does come in from Pakistan at about 300,000 Fmg for a 50 kilo bag.  Remember that much  Malagasy rice, the best rice of course is sold to Europe mostly France leaving the crappy rice grown here for the Malagasy people.   Again the government also makes some gestures to   try to limit the export of rice but they are up against a more powerful entity --- corporate export business.

Water harvesting is need of time now for all over world. As whether seasons are changing uncertainly. In village area it is easy and practicable but in city where multi storied building standing close energy and water problems are difficult to solve.

Extracting water from the air:
Wind-powered device can produce 11 gallons per day of clean drinking water from the air
Check: … r-air.html

I always drank water from the tap during 11 years in Mahajanga - never directly from the tap, but we put some bottles in the fridge, so that it could deposit the "white material". I met several people who had severe kidney problems (stones) - resulting from the "white thing" in the water (which is a high content of limestone).

Until 2015 water supply was not a big problem - there was always sufficient water in Mahajanga. But we often kept some big recipients of water as a reserve.

Normally the rainy season always started in December with sufficient rain during the night, but no rain during the day. In January/February there were typically 2 weeks of HARD tropical rain - day and night, which resulted in hundreds of thick snails wandering around the house: the ate all leaves in the garden, creeped on your car, on the house walls and you stepped on them as soon as you left the house...

In February/March/April often some cyclones/hurricanes, but the worst at the East coast.
I am astonished to read that this is such a dry rainy season!

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