The Green Climate Fund has approved US$23.6 million for a project to ensure the delivery of safe freshwater to 105,000 people in the outer islands of the Maldives.
The project is among the first eight investments approved by the GCF, a global initiative established to provide financing from wealthy nations for adaptation projects in developing countries. The GCF has released US$183 million in funding ahead of crucial climate change talks in Paris.
The five-year adaptation project in the Maldives is due to begin on February 15, 2016 and aims to help vulnerable communities manage climate-change induced water shortages.
Several islands across the Maldives report water shortages during the dry season each year.
According to the UNDP, the project involves the scaling up of “an integrated water supply system, the introduction of decentralised and cost-effective dry season water supply mechanisms and the improvement of groundwater quality.
“As a result, the project will reduce the human, environmental and social impacts of drinking water shortages experienced during the dry season.”
According to the environment ministry, the government spent MVR3.89 million (US$252,000) in 2014 to provide water supplies to 75 islands.
Some 97 islands had reported water shortages during the four-month-long northeastern monsoon this year.
Since it was established in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami – which contaminated groundwater in several islands – the national disaster management centre has been providing water to about 80 of the Maldives’ 188 inhabited islands each dry season for the last ten years.
The GCF meanwhile aims to mobilise US$100 billion a year by 2020. However, the developed world has so far pledged just US$10.2 billion.
The low-lying islands of the Maldives is among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events.
In an op-ed published on the Independent last week, Mariyam Shiuna from NGO Transparency Maldives raised fears of foreign funding not reaching local communities due to corruption.
Corrupt officials in the Maldives had embezzled US$1.6 million from tsunami relief funding, she noted, but have yet to face trial.
“Such delays are common in the Maldives. As details of the fraud allegations emerged (a case of forged documents and imaginary construction supply orders, it is claimed), our Anti-Corruption Commission seemingly suspected a larger amount of money could be missing. Here too, it could take a while to follow the paper trail,” she wrote.
“The Green Climate Fund, no doubt, is genuinely asking itself: how can we make sure funds reach those most in need? How safe will climate funds be – in the Maldives or other countries with weak governance? How can we uncover any suspected wrongdoings quickly – not seven or eight years later?”
Meanwhile, in a new action plan submitted ahead of the climate change negotiations in December, the current administration pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 10 percent before 2030 by switching to renewable sources of energy.
The Maldives is lobbying to reduce global carbon emissions and keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degree celsius, but is pursuing seemingly contradictory policies of installing solar panels and exploring for oil.
Exploring for oil is among President Abdulla Yameen’s key campaign pledges.
In February, some 20 NGOs urged the government to reconsider the oil exploration policy, saying the venture will risk the country’s economic and environmental health.
Photo by UNDP
Correction: November 11, 2015
This article previously suggested that the Green Climate Fund was set up by the UN. This is incorrect. The GCF is independent of the UN.