Water Quality, Exposure and Health

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 111–124 | Cite as

Physicochemical and Bacteriological Water Quality Across Different Forms of Land Use on the Mahafaly Plateau, Madagascar

  • Jean R. RasoloariniainaEmail author
  • Jörg U. Ganzhorn
  • Noromalala Raminosoa
Original Paper


The sub-arid southwest of Madagascar is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots combined with exceptional poverty and high risk of further temperature increase that will aggravate the living and health conditions of the people. As bases for future water management, we measured the physicochemical and microbiological quality of water sources across different forms of land use in the protected Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, and the agricultural and pastoral regions of the Mahafaly plateau on limestone and the coastal plain on sand during the dry and wet season of 2012–2013. We investigated spatial and seasonal variation of water characteristics and their relationships with bacterial contamination. Portable meters were used for the physicochemical measures. The compact dry method was used for microbial analyses. The pH was neutral to slightly alkaline and within the permissible limits of WHO and Malagasy standards. Electric conductivity (EC) and total dissolved solids (TDS) were very high and above the permissible limits in the coastal plain, moderately high in the park and low on the plateau. The concentrations of nitrogen components \((\hbox {NH}_{4},\hbox { NO}_{3}\hbox { and NO}_{2})\) were high in the rainy season, with the highest concentrations in wells. Phosphate concentration was high throughout the study area. Total coliforms, Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp. and Vibrio spp. were present throughout the study area year-round, representing a serious health hazard. Their concentrations were not correlated with any physicochemical characteristics in any systematic fashion that would allow to use the physicochemical characteristics as proxy for microbial contamination. Poor sanitary conditions are the principal causes of the water contamination that could be reduced substantially by simple behavioural changes of the local human population. The finding that water temperature in wells of the plateau and to a lesser extent of the coastal plain increases during the hot wet season indicates a substantial contribution of surface rather than subterranean water to the water available for human and livestock consumption. This limits the options for future increase of water consumption by people, livestock and agriculture in the region.


Tsimanampetsotsa National Park Sub-arid climate Water quality Water pollution Bacteria Total coliforms 



The study was carried out under the collaboration between Madagascar National Parks, the Departments of Animal Biology, the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology (Antananarivo University, Madagascar) and the Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation (Hamburg University. Germany). We thank Susanne Kobbe, Dresy Lovasoa, Domoina Rakotomalala, Roland Eve, Jacques Rakotondranary, Yedidya Ratovonamana, Amadou Ranirison, Tobias Feldt, Mr. Violence Robert and all of the MNP and WWF staff in Toliara, for their support. Special thanks go to our para-ecologists Mr. Jack and Mr. Louis Fisy for their help in the field and for their communication skills with the local communities. A. Englert, W. Foley and the reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. The study was financed by SuLaMa/BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung).

Supplementary material

12403_2014_129_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Appendix S1: Type and location of sampling sites, water and microbial characteristics during the wet season (DOCX 31KB)
12403_2014_129_MOESM2_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Appendix S2: Type and location of sampling sites and water characteristics during the dry season (DOCX 36KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean R. Rasoloariniaina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jörg U. Ganzhorn
    • 2
  • Noromalala Raminosoa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of AntananarivoAntananarivoMadagascar
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyHamburgGermany

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