The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Bringing water to communities in Maldives

In Maldives, fresh groundwater resources are scarce. Rivers and lakes are almost non-existent. More than 6,000 people living on the islands of Mahibadhoo, Ihavandhoo and Gadhdhoo couldn’t access safe drinking water, especially in the dry season.

Known for its locally produced handwoven baskets, the water situation is "very bad on Gadhdhoo Island" according to Aminath Faruhaana, a local activist. She continued to add that, "A reliable water system is something that our community has been waiting on for a long time."

Prolonged dry periods, groundwater contamination and saltwater intrusion have caused serious water security issues. With the increasing effects of climate change, access to a year-round supply of clean, safe water has been an ongoing challenge.

"In line with UNOPS global commitment to COP21 recommendations, we will continue to support the Government of Maldives in mitigating the effects of climate change and increasing the resilience of the Maldivian people," stated Francoise Jacob, UNOPS Director and Representative for Sri Lanka and Maldives.


  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​Local schoolchildren from Gadhdhoo attending the IWRM network inauguration ceremony.
His Excellency, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, the President of the Republic of Maldives, speaking at the inauguration ceremony. © UNOPS/Simonetta Siligato

To help develop a long-term solution, UNOPS worked alongside the Government of Maldives, island communities and UNDP to manage the construction of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) networks for the three islands.  The Gadhdhoo Island IWRM network was recently inaugurated by His Excellency, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom the President of the Republic of Maldives on 15 February 2016. Ihavandhoo Island's system was also formally inaugurated by the Minister of Environment and Energy Honourable Thoriq Ibrahim on the 19 January 2016.

This network combines rainwater collection with seawater desalinization to ensure Maldivians have reliable access to safe, purified water. Solar energy will help power the systems. UNOPS also provided hands-on technical training to the Maldivian utility service providers on the operation and maintenance of the systems.

Mahibadhoo's new system will open shortly.

This project was carried out with financial support from the Adaptation Fund.

Click here to read more about our work with the Government of Maldives, UN system entities, donors and NGOs to help Maldives provide access to clean water to a population spread over 1,200 islands.

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