Three islands of B. Atoll - Dharavandhoo, Maalhos and Kihaadhoo – have signed an agreement to stop the practice of open-air incineration of waste.
The three islands signed the agreement as part of the campaign to promote environmentally friendly and safe disposal of waste, the Namoona Baa Atoll Project.
Namoona Baa Atoll Project was established between local island councils of the B. Atoll islands by special decree to initiate a safe and sustainable waste management system in inhabited Maldivian islands.
The decree was drafted and signed by the islands during a waste management symposium held at Soneva Fushi from January 5 – 8.
Open-air incineration of waste poses a danger to public health, environment and local tourism.
As part of the agreement, the three islands will apply the concept of Soneva’s Eco Centro and establish eco-centers to which waste produced by the communities will be collected to and recycled.
Eco Centro was launched by Soneva at the Soneva Fushi in 2007 as Maldives’ first integrated waste management center. All food waste, wood, glass and other disintegratable waste are processed at the Eco Centro and recycled to produce salable materials such as construction blocks and compost.
All plastic waste at Soneva Fushi are recycled into salable materials.
Soneva has pledged financial assistance to establish the Eco Centros at the three B. Atoll islands under its program the Soneva Save Our Seas.
The first Eco Centro will be established in Maalhos this year. Soneva reports Maalhos will stop open-air incineration of waste at the island shortly after the center is established.
Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo, Soneva and international organization Common Seas, during the symposium in January, established a partnership under the name Clean Blue Maldives.
Clean Blue Maldives initiative aims to make B. Atoll and Maldives an example to the international community in reduction in plastic waste thrown in the seas.
Speaking regarding the agreement, President of Kihaadhoo Council, Ibrahim Fazeel said though the island was a small community of 529 people, the island lacked facilities for a safe waste management system – a sentiment echoed by all three local councils.
“Through Namoona Baa Atoll, we can finally end the practice of open burning of waste in Kihaadhoo - that is a day I look forward to,” said Fazeel.
Fazeel stressed the island had a booming local tourist industry, which will benefit from the project.
CEO and Founder of Soneva, Sonu Shivdasani noted that Maldives had the potention to become the world’s most progressive country on single use plastic through collective effort.
“If we project forwards just a few years, we can see that all islands will have thriving waste-to-wealth centers; there will be no plastic bags; no plastic straws; islands will have their own water bottling plants; no guesthouses or resorts will serve water in single use bottles.”