Young Child Survival and Development

Health & Nutrition

Water & Environmental Sanitation


Water & Environmental Sanitation

To address the water and sanitation challenges in the Maldives, UNICEF will ensure that every family in the Maldives has access to a year-round supply of safe, clean drinking water, as well as an always-available public back-up supply. In addition, UNICEF has sought to develop a model system to revolutionize waste disposal and sanitation conditions, through its four island pilot programme of practically- zero emission closed sanitation systems that will replace the aging piecemeal septic tanks and sewage runoff arrangement that are currently used throughout the islands.

By 2007, communities will have access to improved and sustainable sanitation and water sources. To do this, UNICEF has initiated three strategies:

  • All communities will have access to safe water, through community and household rainwater harvesting and reverse osmosis units
  • Four Island Sanitation Programme to provide a model for unified island sanitation
  • Environmental education to consolidate high national consciousness and behaviour change around global warming

Tsunami Recovery Programme: Regenerating a Degraded Environment

UNICEF’s water and sanitation programme in the Maldives is a two-pronged approach. It provides immediate relief to families in need of safe water. Simultaneously, it is developing a model system to revolutionize waste disposal and sanitation conditions in four main island centres – three of them future points for population consolidation in the Maldives – and contribute to regenerating the degraded environment that has been aggravated by the tsunami. 

Through UNICEF’s provision of over 4,000 water storage tanks, approximately 25,000 people have access to a sustained supply of safe water through rainwater harvesting. By the end of the Tsunami Recovery Programme, UNICEF will have installed approximately 55% of total water storage tanks in the Maldives: 7,900 household and community tanks and 567 tanks for internally displaced people.  In addition, 19 reverse osmosis desalination units, positioned in almost every atoll, serve as an emergency store of water to households that have been unable to stockpile sufficient reserves of water for the dry season. Four additional units are stationed on emergency standby boats that are deployed on demand during water deficit periods.

The UNICEF-supported sanitation project will provide connections in three atoll capitols and one island to convey both black and grey water from houses and businesses to a sewage disposal site. These are the first "closed" or practically zero emission systems for sanitation, utilising small-bore sewer interceptors (operating on a partial vacuum basis) which collect sewage for centralised treatment in modular units. Treated effluent is then used to re-charge and regenerate groundwater quality, while sludge from the sewage disposal site is pumped into drying beds and naturally composted to regenerate the nutrient-degraded soil and facilitate the growth of trees and vegetable gardens.





Looking Forward: Beyond the Tsunami Response

  • Finalize the water and sanitation project with a cost-benefit analysis aiming to promote future investments for sanitation in other islands
  • Continue to advocate and monitor for safe water storage, management and use
  • Ensure at least half the primary schools in the Maldives actively teach and engage children on environmental awareness


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