Thursday 14th of December 2006


Opening ceremony: «Action, not words !»

Before a packed audience in the hall of the School of Music and Dance, Blanche-Reine Javel, town councillor and regional councillor opened the second Rural Indian Ocean University. She emphasised the importance of St Joseph as the capital of the ‘Deep South’, an area fully aware of its rural character.

The second important focal point was the speech made by the president of the Association of European Rural Universities (APURE), Camilo Mortagua. More than just a speech, the president, of Portuguese origin, transmitted a message of hope for peace. “ There is only one race on the planet, the human race. I consider that Reunion Island and Saint Joseph should feel proud. While a section of the planet is suffering from intercultural conflicts and are attempting to achieve peace, here you have proved that people can build history together and live as a community.” The president of the APURE emphasised the work carried out by the different rural universities and insisted on the importance of exchanges, aimed at making us «more skilled and more intelligent. I hope that during our work, we shall be able to apply values and principles such as freedom and friendship. We must develop our social cohesion, which is a basis for peace».

The third important aspect of the opening ceremony was the speech made by Patrick Lebreton, the mayor of St Joseph. He emphasised the idea of sustainable development, and the fact that this second edition of the Rural Indian Ocean University should not be addressed just to the elite of the population. “ Action, not words!” Becoming aware of ecological, social and economic problems has made it possible for Saint Joseph «to apply principles of sustainable development. I am very proud to be the mayor of the first town in the Reunion to have signed a partnership agreement within the Agenda 21 programme.»

The agreement was signed by Patrick Lebreton and Eric Magamaootoo, president of the Reunion Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The agreement is the first step towards drawing up a report based on a diagnosis of the area, with its strong and weak points as regards sustainable development. The report will be presented to the population of St Joseph, with the aim of improving various aspects of life in the town and making sure that it continues to apply principles of sustainable development.

Visit of projects proposed during the 2004 Rural Indian Ocean University: two years later, what progress can be noted ?

1. Rehabilitating the heritage of Manapany

CASES : consolidating and managing an economically sensitive sector. These are the actions that have been carried out by the members of the CASES Association working on the site of the lime-kiln in Manapany.

Thanks to the contribution of the former Mayor, Guy Hoarau, who made a gift of his house to the town hall, the trainees of the CASES Association have been able to work on renovating the building, applying traditional Creole building techniques. The objectives of the CASES are :
- To develop the economic redeployment of traditional skills, part of the local heritage.
- To develop the area through the application of these traditional skills, while at the same time creating jobs.

Manapany is an ideal location for the application of these objectives:
- Traditional aspects of construction, linked to its position by the sea, such as the jetty, which was used in the 19th century, or the lime kiln in the gardens.
- An exceptional natural environment, with endemic plants such as the pandanus, or fauna such as the green gecko, not found elsewhere on the island.
- Buildings needing to be renovated. A house with stone walls and a vetiver thatched roof and a wooden house to be built in the gardens.

The site, which will be used as centre for artists, will be opened in August 2007.

The site of Manapany, rehabilitated by the trainees working in the context of the EQUAL Association, is based on a strategy allowing people who have not necessarily had access to many opportunities to benefit from a training course and be involved in a concrete project.

2. The plant processing centre in Langevin

The project was set up in 2004. In the same year, the plot, which used to be the site of a traditional industry along the Langevin river, was bought by the town council. In the past, the sugar processing plant of Kerveguen was situated here and some remains of the plant are still visible. Since the 1990s, the site has been abandoned. Yet its 14 acres are not devoid of interest, particularly as they lie along the banks of the river.

The project is an example of the commitments set out during the 2004 Rural University that have been respected. If no stone has yet been laid, the plans, as well as all the details concerning the layout of the laboratory, have been given careful thought.

Sébastien Sauvaget, the constructor, declares: «It is a very specific project, as it is a protected site which must absolutely be respected and not spoilt».

Michel Reynaud, the architect of the project : «One of the problems is that the site is protected. We must be careful, as certain types of construction are not possible. The site must not be spoilt and the banks of the river must be protected. What is important with this kind of site is to separate the industrial and the administrative aspects. But there is also a laboratory, as well as a workshop for reparation, an archives storeroom and a library. As regards water-supply, a recycling system will be set up inside the building. It was really a question of rehabilitation of an individual house. There is not much concrete. The roof is made of tin and the crushing mechanism must be insulated because of the noise».

The project will make it possible to produce plants for pharmaceutical laboratories, either for medicinal purposes or for plant therapy.

3. The food processing laboratory in the ZAC of les Grègues

Structure : 4 laboratories for storage, toilets, one office and one meeting room.

Work is being carrying out and should finish at the end of February.

The laboratory only opened in the south in the year 2000, where there is a high demand and needs, notably in the fields of chemical and food processing analysis. The laboratory has been funded by the Regional Council and the European Union.

Report of Friday, 15 décember 2006
Report of Saturday, 16 décember 2006



Three topics are proposed for the next European Rural University, which will take place on 7th, 8th and 9th September 2010 in Saint-Joseph :

- Europe at the service of the rural community and its inhabitants,
- Rural professions for women,
- Culture : between heritage and innovation.

16 November 2009