45 islands out of water amidst record heat

45 islands out of water amidst record heat
March 28 17:30 2016

Some 45 islands have reported a water shortage amidst record breaking warm weather. The meteorology department said the Maldives is experiencing its hottest dry season in 18 years.

The National Disaster Management Center says it has transported water to some 31 islands, spending MVR2.3million (US$150,000) on transportation costs.

All but three of the islands that have run out of water lie in northern Maldives.

Half of inhabited islands in the Maldives report water shortages during the annual dry season.

The NDMC has urged island councils to report shortages two weeks in advance.

“It is not a disaster or a crisis, this happens every year after Tsunami. Usually, requests start coming at the end of December or at the start of January. But this year the rainy monsoon lasted a longer than usual,” Hisan Hassan, an NDMC spokesman, said.

The meteorology department said it had recorded temperatures as high as 33.5 Degree Celsius due to an unusually strong El Nino event. During the last strong El Nino event, temperatures reached 30.4 Degrees Celsius.

Global temperature levels meanwhile registered an extraordinary spike last month with a 1.35 degree celsius increase from the average temperature for February.

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim said the government is currently working on safe drinking water systems on 37 islands. The government aims to set up water and sewerage systems in 54 islands during its five-year term, he added.

The NDMC said it is setting up water storage systems in seven islands and has signed agreements with two contractors to transport water to the Maldives’ remote islands.

More than US$100 million worth of foreign loans and MVR500 million (US$32 million) from the state budget was allocated in the 2015 budget for water and sewerage projects.

In late 2015, the Green Climate Fund also approved US$23.6 million for a five-year adaptation project to ensure the delivery of safe freshwater to 105,000 people in the outer islands of the Maldives.

As the world’s lowest-lying nation, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to effects of climate change, sea level rise and global warming.

Successive governments have been under pressure to deliver solutions to climate change-related issues with water, waste management, and coastal protection projects included in the state budget each year.

However, several projects remain in the pipeline without progress.

In November, The Maldives Independent reported that a number of development projects planned for last year were stalled.