Government of Maldives and the World Bank signed a $16.5 million project to support resilient urban development and disaster preparedness in the Maldives.
The agreement was virtually signed last week by Minister of Finance and Treasury, Ibrahim Ameer and the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Dr. Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.
This project is intended to support the government’s efforts to modernize Maldives’ urban infrastructure, enabling its expansion while making it more climate resilient including the renewal of the obsolete storm water drainage system in the Maldivian capital, which has been ineffective for the past decade.
A statement released by the World Bank said that the project will also fund a sewage treatment plant on the island of Hulhumalé and to meet the growing demand for urban spaces in the country. The plant will reduce the release of untreated wastewater into the sea, protecting fisheries and tourism industry from pollution and given that good hygiene is a critical measure to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the sewage treatment plant has become more relevant today.
In the statement, Dr. Pswarayi-Riddihough said that “Social distancing is particularly challenging in congested cities, and the government’s efforts to develop regional hubs and a housing policy that reduces congestion are key to building the country’s resilience to natural disasters and disease outbreaks.”
And the project also help Maldives better manage the impact of climate change risks by strengthening emergency preparedness and the provision of modern early warning systems engaging citizens.
World Bank’s task team leaders for the project, Kwabena Amankwah-Ayeh and Suranga Kahandawa said that “with the incidence of fires on the rise, improving drainage and helping store rainwater will not only increase the availability of fresh water on these islands, it will also make more water available for fire-fighting in the crowded urban environments.”
The Urban Development and Resilience Project will be implemented by the Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure with support from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), City Councils of Malé and Addu City, Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC). The total project cost is $16.5 million, including a $8.25 million grant and a $8.25 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA).