World Bank approves USD 16.5 million to renew Male' storm drain system, build sewage treatment plant

People make their way through a street flooded with rain water in Male' on December 5, 2018. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives and World Bank has signed a USD 16.5 million (MVR 254.43 million) project to support resilient urban development and disaster preparedness in Maldives.

According to a statement released by World Bank on Wednesday, the agreement was virtually signed last week by Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer and World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Dr. Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.

The Maldives Urban Development and Resilience Project is designed to support the Maldivian government’s efforts to modernize Maldives’ urban infrastructure, enabling its expansion while making it more climate resilient.

The project will fund the renewal of the obsolete storm water drainage system in the capital Male’ City, and a sewage treatment plant in suburban Hulhumale’.

The plant will reduce the release of untreated wastewater into the sea, protecting fisheries and tourism industry from pollution.

The World Bank stated that the sewage treatment plant was even more relevant today given that good hygiene was a critical measure to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.

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

The Urban Development and Resilience Project will be implemented by the Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure with support from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Male’ City Council, Addu City Council, Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Male’ Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC).

The total project cost is USD 16.5 million, including a USD 8.25 million grant and a USD 8.25 million credit from the International Development Association.