The United Nations Development Programme in the Maldives has introduced a mobile application to report dumped and unattended waste in the Greater Malé region.
Users from the capital and its suburbs Hulhumalé and Vilimalé can download the ‘MakeMyIsland’ app for free, take a picture, and report littering to the concerned authorities, which will attend to the problem and send a notification through email.
“The success of the application will depend on the efficient attendance of the concerned authorities on the reported issues,” said State Minister for Environment Abdulla Majeed after launching the app at a ceremony held yesterday.
Complaints can also be made via text message or through the MakeMyIsland website. In addition to littering, users can lodge complaints related to municipal services such as broken street lights.
The mobile app also has a feature for reporting anonymously. Seven complaints related to construction waste and littering have been reported in Malé so far.
The authorities have long struggled to keep the streets of Malé free of litter and dumped garbage bags. In early 2014, the city council set up public dustbins and employed 260 people to clean up the densely-packed island, but the collection and dumping of household waste remains a longstanding challenge.
The current administration last year canceled a contract signed with India-based Tatva Global Renewable Energy in 2011 to provide waste management services in the capital.
Nearly 90,000 tons of domestic waste from Malé was transported to the nearby industrial island of Thilafushi in 2012.
Speaking to The Maldives Independent, Aminath Shuza, innovation ambassador at the UNDP, explained that the complaints from Malé will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, the housing ministry, and the police.
“These three authorities have an overlapping mandate to provide or maintain municipal services in Malé,” she noted.
Shuza expressed hope for the app services to be made available in all inhabited islands.
After a complaint is logged through the app, it is recorded on a website and the location is digitally mapped, allowing the authorities to fix the problem. The app will also identify complaint patterns, including areas from which most complaints are made from.
The UNDP noted in a press statement that there are very few community meetings in the Maldives and “very little scope for dialogue between residents and [municipal authorities].”
“On the other hand, the country has over 600,000 mobile phone subscribers for a national population of only half as much,” the UNDP said.
The app was developed with “the concept of using mobile crowdsourcing for better delivery of public services.”
The MakeMyIsland app is an extension of a pilot project carried out in September 2014 on the island of Fonadhoo in Laamu atoll, which has since been expanded to Gan, Kadhdhoo and Maandhoo and is scheduled to be launched in early 2016.
In the Laamu atoll islands, the project will seek to address littering, broken street lights, soil erosion, parking violations, and graffiti.
In her remarks at yesterday’s launching ceremony, UN Resident Representative Shoko Noda said: “Let this be the start of a new future where stronger partnerships are built with the government and civil society to find new and innovative ways to address the every day developmental challenges.”
The MakeMyIsland pilot project has won the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific Innovation Award 2015. It is currently being introduced in other countries such as Indonesia.