World Bank launches $16.5 mln project to support Maldives urban development

World Bank has announced a $16.5 million project to support resilient urban development and disaster preparedness in the Maldives.

Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and Maldivian finance minister Ibrahim Ameer signed the project agreement last week.

The World Bank said the Maldives Urban Development and Resilience Project will support the Maldivian government’s efforts to modernise the country’ urban infrastructure, enabling its expansion whilst making it more climate resilient.

This will include renewal of the obsolete storm water drainage system in capital Male, the bulk of which is over 40 years old and has not been functional for the past decade, it said.

The Washington-based development bank said the project will also fund a sewage treatment plant on the suburban town of Hulhumale. The plant is expected to reduce the release of untreated wastewater into the sea, protecting fisheries and tourism industry from pollution, it added.

“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,” Pswarayi-Riddihough was quoted in a statement, as saying.

According to the World Bank, the project will also help Maldives better manage the impact of climate change risks by strengthening emergency preparedness, including the provision of modern early warning systems engaging citizens.

“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,” Kwabena Amankwah-Ayeh and Suranga Kahandawa, the World Bank’s task team leaders for the project, said.

The project is financed through a $8.25 million grant and a $8.25 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank arm that offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries.

Photo: Maldivian Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer (L2) is pictured during the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund (IMF) joint annual general meetings held in Washington DC in October 2019. FILE PHOTO/ FINANCE MINISTRY

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