Residents of Maalhos and Kudarikilu, Baa Atoll, on Monday, began a community-led effort to reinforce the coast of their respective islands due to severe land erosion.
Entire communities, on both islands, are actively implementing mitigative measures by placing makeshift sandbags on the shore.
Speaking to The Editon, Kudarikilu Island Council President Abdul Hannan Abbas stated that at present, their biggest concern is "to save two trees that are over a 100-years-old, from being entirely washed away".
"People here are very worried about the situation. Erosion is occurring in many other islands as well and we believe it is induced by climate change."
Hannan further emphasized that “there is an urgent need for government support. Our actions today act only as a temporary fix. It is imperative that the state provide assistance for a permanent course of action".
Since Monday, residents of Kudarikilu have begun armouring the shoreline working from 0930 hrs onwards till late.
Resorts located nearby, as well as WAMCO, provided assistance to the community efforts by providing sandbags and jumbo bags.
A considerable amount of islands face land erosion throughout the year, especially during the strong winds of the northeast monsoon (Iruvai) and severe wave action during the southeast monsoon (Hulhangu).
Although the unprecedented level of erosion is alarming and inextricably linked with climate change, critics have raised alarm over Maldivian governments—former and present, exacerbating the negative impacts by continuing to engage in destructive projects. Case in point is coastal engineering initiatives conducted in spite of EIAs advising against it, deforestation of islands for the purpose of building airports, and landscaping newly built resorts on reclaimed land.
Land reclamation impacts the resilience of coral reefs, the island's natural protection mechanism, by significantly reducing its efficiency to shield itself from naturally occurring weather patterns that influence soil erosion.
Public concerns also underscore inefficient policies in protection of the shoreline vegetation. The vegetation, which acts as a buffer zone, helps to hold the soil in place and stabilize the island's coastal morphology.
Strong easterly winds (Halha) during the northeast (Iruvai) monsoon typically influence beach morphology through natural longshore sediment transportation (Vodun).