This week, the President of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, opened a new GEF supported Integrated Water Supply System in the Maldives in a move to help protect the country’s freshwater resources.
The new water system on Thoddoo Island will harness harvested rainwater and desalinated salt water to meet the domestic demands of the island, helping to protect the island’s limited freshwater supply by reducing the over-extraction of groundwater. The GEF-funded project has leveraged an additional US$ 1 million from the Government of the Maldives.
Inhabitants of the Maldives archipelago depend on rainwater and groundwater aquifers to meet their water demands. In the capital city of Malé, desalinated water is supplied to households via a metred network, but on most of the outlying islands water is drawn from shallow, hand-dug wells and household or community-owned rainwater tanks.
On Thoddoo, an island located 67 km from the capital, groundwater is heavily exploited for agriculture. About 75 percent of the land is used for the cultivation of papaya, watermelon, betel, chillies and leafy vegetables. Approximately 100 farmers tap into Thoddoo’s freshwater lens on a daily basis, using the water to irrigate their crops. However, the groundwater aquifer is extremely susceptible to contamination from wastewater and agricultural chemicals.
An Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) demonstration project has been initiated to help reduce freshwater pollution and over-extraction on the island, and ultimately address the challenge of saltwater intrusion. The demonstration project is part of a larger initiative by the GEF to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in addressing their water security needs.
The Integrated Water Resource Management in Atlantic and Indian Ocean Small Island Developing States Project, implemented by UNEP and UNDP, aims at promoting integrated water management in six SIDS: Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.
The project in the Maldives is executed on the ground by UNOPS and the Ministry of Environment and Energy.
Geraldine Deblon, Communication Officer for the GEF/UNDP/UNEP Integrated Water Resource Management in Atlantic and Indian Ocean Small Islands Developing States project: GeraldineD@unops.org
Aminath Sheron, Project Manager in charge at the Ministry of Environment & Energy, in Male, Maldives: firstname.lastname@example.org