Improving Water Security in Maldives through Rainwater Harvesting

March 10, 2021

Minister of Environment Hussain Rasheed Hassan hands over Gaafu Alif Maamendhoo RWH system. Photo: MoE

Rainwater Harvesting Systems handed over to 8 islands of Maldives by Ministry of Environment with support of the Green Climate Fund, providing an additional 150 tonnes of water storage for the communities


Gaafu Alifu Maamendhoo, 10 March 2021: The inauguration ceremony of the Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) systems installed in 8 islands of Gaafu Alifu and Gaafu Dhaalu Atolls is taking place over the next three days. The islands being inaugurated on this round include GA. Kondey, GA. Maamendhoo, GA. Nilandhoo, GDh. Hoandehdhoo, GDh. Nadella, GDh. Rathafandhoo, GDh. Fiyori and GDh. Faresmaathodaa. The inauguration ceremony held in GA. Maamendhoo island today sees the completion and handover of RWH systems to these 8 out of 25 islands, which will provide an additional 150 tonnes of water storage for the community, reducing the need to request for dry period water supply.

Today’s inauguration was presided by the Ministry of Environment, Maamendhoo Island Council, GA. and GDh. Atoll Councils, representatives of Fenaka Corporation Limited, other institutions and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Maldives.

The handover of the RWH systems is part of the ‘Supporting vulnerable communities in Maldives to manage climate change-induced water shortages’ project supported by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) with UNDP, and directly implemented by the Ministry of Environment in the Maldives. 

Delegates inspect the Maamendhoo system. Photo: UNDP Maldives.

The completed installation of the RWH systems include provision of 35-year lifespan rolled, tapered panel water storage tanks, one 100-ton capacity raw (untreated) water tank and a 50-ton capacity product (treated) water tank. These RWH systems follow an improved model that goes beyond the usual rainwater harvesting mechanisms in several ways. First, rainwater is harvested from existing roofs of public institutions and transported to a communal water treatment plant via gravity using underground pipes. Second, the system uses ultrafiltration to filter out any impurities in the harvested rainwater, ensuring water safety. Third, it is also designed to divert the overflow of water from the system to groundwater recharge pits in the water treatment plant site and at the public institutions, thereby contributing to groundwater quality improvement. The harvested rainwater is provided to the community via public taps located at various locations in the islands. The system has been designed to be compatible with any future networked Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) systems that may come in.

Delegates inspect the Maamendhoo system. Photo: UNDP Maldives.

As part of next steps and capacity development, the project will continue to provide training on operations and maintenance to the utility companies, and training on management of the systems to the Island Councils. The project is also developing several interactive tools to enable communities to manage their own water resources. The project will look at building capacity within the community and the country, by establishing water management courses within local institutions.

“COVID-19 impressed upon us the importance of having safe water, at the same time it brought challenges to the swift delivery of such essential services. With decentralization, there is now a greater responsibility on the councils and the community to maintain and operate these systems and to spread awareness of water security and water safety,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Akiko Fujii, speaking at the inauguration ceremony.

UNDP Resident Representative Akiko Fujii addresses the inauguration ceremony in Maamendhoo. Photo: MoE

“Under the strong partnership between UNDP and our national counterpart Ministry of Environment, we have been able to support milestone moments such as what we are witnessing today, as well as policy-level initiatives such as the enactment of the Water and Sewerage Act. We envision the impact of the project to be sustained overtime to continue providing water security, and added benefits to the people of Maldives,” said Akiko Fujii, alluding to how building on the tradition of rainwater harvesting and the use of new insight and technology, is allowing us to Build Forward Better.



The Green Climate Fund project aims to provide safe and secure drinking water to 105,000 people across 29 of the most vulnerable islands that face climate change-induced water shortages every year. In addition to the 8 islands inaugurated today, the project is nearing completion of establishing rainwater harvesting and storage systems in another 17 islands. Four islands in the north of Maldives will also have full Integrated Water Resource Management systems with piped water to households, which are also close to completion. The project aims to facilitate decentralised water supply management mechanisms and practices so that reliance on central provision of emergency water is minimized during the annual dry seasons. A longer-term objective of the project is also to improve groundwater quality through managed recharge mechanisms. The project works with multiple stakeholders in the water sector to bring institutional and transformative change in different areas. This includes support provided to national and local level capacity and skills building, institutional strengthening and regulatory reforms, as well as community engagement in sustainable management of water as a natural resource.