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ADB grants US$33m for waste management

Open burning of waste in Thilafushi poses “an environmental and public health hazard.”



An agreement was signed Thursday with the Asian Development Bank for a US$35 million grant for an environment-friendly waste management project in the Greater Malé region.

The agreement included US$2 million as co-financing from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

“The project will install an improved waste collection, transfer, and disposal system, including trucks, transfer stations, waste vessels with rehabilitated harbour, and heavy equipment for dumpsite management,” according to the ADB.

The capital and more than 30 surrounding islands in the central atolls – home to half the population – generate 774 tons per day of mixed solid waste, which is dumped and burned on the Thilafushi island near Malé, creating “an environmental and public health hazard.”

At the agreement signing ceremony, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim told the press that open burning will come to an end once a waste processing plant is built. The Thilafushi dumpsite will be “rehabilitated” and cleaned, he said.

Community-based island waste management systems will be set up in all the inhabited islands of Kaafu, Alif Alif, Alif Dhaal and Vaavu atolls.

The ADB project costs US$40 million, with the government providing US$4.93 million. It is expected to be completed by the first half of 2023.

Finance Minister Ahmed Munawar said financing of US$125 million needed for the whole waste management project is being arranged.

Earlier this year, Munawar said US$165 million has been “secured” from various donors for the waste management project, including the ADB.

Littering and trash is a particular issue in the overcrowded capital. The state waste management company WAMCO began waste collection services in Malé in August last year in a renewed effort to tackle the long-standing trash problem.

Garbage can often be seen heaped on the streets and deputy mayor Shamau Shareef has described the capital as “contaminated.”