Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Integrated Water Resources Management project in Mahibadhoo Island

21 Dec 2013

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Mahibadhoo, December 21, 2013: The groundbreaking ceremony for the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) project that was held in Mahibadhoo Island this Saturday was a definitive step towards making the people of Mahibadhoo more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Financed by the Adaptation Fund (AF), and implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as a responsible party, the IWRM project works to increase the climate resilience of Maldivian communities by providing safe drinking water to the selected islands of Haa Alif Ihavandhoo, Alif Dhaal Mahibadhoo and Gaafu Dhaalu Gadhdhoo. The project has a view on country-wide replication which will ultimately ensure the enforcement of climate resilient freshwater management systems on all inhabited islands in the country.

“In the Maldives, climate change is expected to affect all aspects of human life, and its impact on water resources are among the most pressing as it directly affects people’s livelihoods. The projected sea level rise threatens to exacerbate salinasation of groundwater. Rainfall is expected to be more intense and for shorter durations which could make rain water harvesting ever more difficult. The monsoon season is likely to change, putting further pressure on water resources and their management,” said UNDP’s acting Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota speaking at the ceremony.

The US $ 8.2 million IWRM project will increase total freshwater storage capacity on all target islands to buffer the effects of less reliable rainfall and freshwater shortages during longer dry periods, and improve the quality of harvested rainwater through a new system that significantly increases the amount of rainwater harvested and used in the communities. This system which augments rainwater with desalinated water is uniquely community driven whereby excess rainwater from the roofs of households are directed to the central water supply system where it is filtered and stored. . Additionally, artificial groundwater recharge will be enhanced to improve the quality and quantity of water stored in the natural aquifer, and contamination of household effluents will be reduced to prevent damages to the sensitive reef ecosystem. 

The groundbreaking ceremony saw the contract being awarded to a Maldivian company for the construction of the building where the desalination plant, quality testing lab and solar panels will be housed. This will be followed by the instalment of rainwater harvesting tanks. Presiding at the ceremony, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Honourable Thoriq Ibrahim stated that the project, which will celebrate people’s participation and ownership, will invest US $ 2.1 million in Mahibadhoo Island, and supply potable water which would be a mix of rainwater and desalinated water.

“This is a dream that our community has been looking forward to for a long time, and we wish to see affordable water being provided to all the households upon completion of the project,” President of Mahibadhoo Island Council, Hassan Naah said.

“The true meaning of the Maldivian proverb “harvest while it rains” is engrained in this project. This project will build on the community’s strength and knowledge about what its members can do today in order to be better prepared for the impacts of climate change that might come later,” Azusa Kubota said.

The IWRM approach has been accepted globally as a way forward to achieve efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the water resources. This integrated approach recognizes that people and a community-centred and participatory approach is necessary for resolving water issues. UNDP and partners believe that building the resilience of communities is the most effective tool in the fight against the impacts of climate change.


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Photo: In the Maldives, the impact of climate change on water resources are among the most pressing. Photo credits: Veronica Wijaya/UNDP Maldives 2006.

Contact Information

Aminath Ibrahim, Communication Officer, (+960) 3343285, aminath.ibrahim@undp.org