The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is committed to supporting the government of Maldives in the drive for sustainable development and fighting risks from Climate Change, says Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.
Xu is on a visit to the Maldives that kicked off on Saturday. He visited Maduvvari, Raa Atoll, where UNDP is supporting the government in building facilities to provide communities year-round access to safe drinking water.
During his visit to the island, Xu participated in a ceremony for the installation of a new desalination plant, which will form part of the integrated water management system to provide clean water to a string of islands. The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Erratic rainfall patterns linked to climate change caused a decline to access to clean fresh water on several islands. Along with unsustainable use of water from aquifers, and lack of large water storage facilities, fresh water supplies in islands across islands drop to precipitous levels in recent years.
Since 2005, more than 81 islands have requested emergency water shipments during the annual dry season. The water is shipped from capital city Male', at considerable costs, which makes timely responses challenging.
The new water system includes: four desalination plants spread across the Maldives, large rainwater harvesting tanks on several key islands, and better management of aquifers. The objective is to create a network of water supply that will provide access to clean water for 49 islands, throughout the year.
“Access to safe and clean water is crucial for the economic growth and wellbeing of the people of the Maldives”, said Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, Minister for Environment and Energy.
“UNDP has been supporting the government to achieve its development priorities for more than 40 years, and its support in building resilient communities and institutions will help the government in its mission to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change”.
Xu will also be a key speaker at the Governance session at Maldives Partnership Forum: “Investing in a Resilient and Sustainable Maldives,” which runs over two days, June 17-18.
“The vision of the new government clearly recognises the mandate to anchor Maldives’ development path in robust institutions based on the strong rule of law, which can stand firm against the winds of political challenges,” said Xu.
“This strong rule of law will need to be upheld by an independent judiciary, in which all Maldivian women and men are fully and equally able to participate, whether rich or poor, and wherever they live, in the country".