Maldives has had five-year development plans, but no overall long term plans. Development currently depends on promises by political parties. As often happens, even existing land use plans (drawn up for some islands) are swept away to fit party pledges.

Using the following foreign and local investments that have faced difficulty over the recent years due to ad hoc policies and government changes, this governance update will attempt to highlight the dangers of pledge-based development plans compounded by a lack of national and regional development plans. 

Cases referred to in this governance update includes: the airports that has been pledged to be built in Dhigulaabaadhoo and Khulhudhuffushi; Gulhi Falhu development project; the GMR airport deal and the Tsunami aid cases.

Read the full governance bulletin here: CFIP Governance bulletin 06 – 2016

Ma bassaa header photo

Transparency Maldives has launched a campaign called “Ma Bassa”.

“Ma Bassaa” is a campaign by the Climate Integrity Project (CIP) of Transparency Maldives to advocate for and promote “Inclusive Governance”. The aforementioned title of the campaign roughly translates to “include/involve me” in Dhivehi.

Through this campaign we aim to bridge the gap between local communities; CBOs and the implementing agencies and government institutions of the country. For successful implementation of climate change projects in the Maldives, it is essential that local communities have a sense of ownership towards ongoing climate change programs

The consultations for the Assessment of Climate Finance Governance by TM showed unanimity amongst all stakeholders for the need for better governance of climate finds and the need for collaboration between donors, the government and civil society. It is this collaboration that the “Ma Bassaa” campaign aims to facilitate.

We have written a governance update on our campaign and what it entails.
Read out governance update here: Climate Integrity Project, Governance Update August 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.37.59 PM

With the rapid development of the tourism and fisheries sectors, the Maldives has enjoyed a long period of robust economic growth. The average rate for real GDP increase between 2000 and 2009 has been 6%, which is one of the highest in Asia. Multiple developmental projects, categorized as climate mitigation and adaptation projects, are announced each year from harbour construction and land reclamation to housing, water and sanitation.

However, this development comes at a cost. This governance update will highlight the issues and costs of undertaking developmental projects without long term considerations of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction stated, “Climate change is treated as a disaster but it is a very fundamental development issue.”

The majority of the aforementioned projects are in the form of loans and grants from various international donors and organizations, worth millions of dollars, to aid the country in its efforts to combat the negative effects of climate change.

We will also be touching upon the importance of community consultation and participation when implementing developmental projects and the negative consequences of failing to do so.

Read our governance update here: Climate Finance Governance Update May 2016

N30A2690 copy

With the recent Audit report of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the recommendations of the Auditor General, TM has published a Climate Finance Governance Update highlighting the theme “All climate related expenditure and financial statements must be ensured as free from corruption.”

View the download at: Climate Governance Update June

As representatives working on behalf of their communities it is crucial to be informed of the policies being formulated in the area of climate change in the Maldives. As climate change affects vulnerable communities the most, it is important to get their voices heard at national and global policy making forums. It is important to advocate and lobby to bring about policies that would ensure communities who are facing the adverse effects of climate change are protected from its consequences. It is also important to ensure that the climate change programs being implemented in the country are the most needed in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Finally, it is vital to ensure that climate funds coming into the country is governed through a transparent framework with clear lines of accountability laid out.

View/download brochure on ‘The role of civil society in influencing climate policy’ in English and Dhivehi.

The Maldives, a poster child country for the global climate movement, is one of the most vulnerable countries to the ill effects of climate change. On average lying just 1.5 meters above mean sea level, the

Maldives is vulnerable to rising sea level and coastal flooding. In recent years the Maldives has received significant amount of funds, in the form of grants and loans from various international donors and organizations, to aid the country in its efforts to combat the negative effects of climate change.

Between 2011-2013 it is estimated that the Maldives spent USD 2.87 million from its national budget for various climate adaptation and mitigation activities. A further USD 168.17 million is committed for various adaptation and mitigation activities through externally funded grants and loans for the period 2011-2017.3

The large amount of funds coming into the country for climate change mitigation and adaptation poses questions on the governance mechanisms established to safeguard climate funds for its intended purpose. How effective are the anti corruption safeguards in the country in monitoring the use of climate funds? How inclusive and transparent is the decision making process of climate funds? How does the government approve and prioritize areas for climate change projects?

Through Transparency Maldives’ Climate Finance Integrity Program, it is hoped that these questions on transparency, accountability, integrity and inclusivity of climate funds would be addressed through advocacy and awareness-raising, and by engaging the public in the discourse.

Read TM’s position paper on Climate Finance Governance in Maldives in English and Dhivehi.

This review is undertaken with the aim to provide an update on major developments in climate finance governance in the Maldives since the publication of the assessment in 2013. With the change in government in November 2013 and the subsequent political reshuffling, significant changes have been observed in climate policies and the governance framework of climate finance. Through consultation with relevant stakeholders and review of developments in policies and legislation, the following is a brief overview of the changes observed in climate funders, policies, governance structure, procurement, coordination, implementation and monitoring. This review does not seek to alter the assessments, findings and recommendations of the 2013 assessment.

Read the full review An Assessment of Climate Finance Governance in Maldives: New Edition 2015

– HA. Dhidhoo, December 2013 – The sand bags piled on HA.Dhidhoo island’s beach to restrict erosion are visible from

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak’s front door. The mother of four said the ocean used to be

250 feet away from the house, but now, during stormy weather, waves lap at her front


“The water in my well is salty. It corrodes the taps, and my children have had hair fall

and skin problems because we shower with groundwater,” she said.

The main sources of water on Dhidhoo – an island of approximately 5000 people and

a land area of 85 hectares – are groundwater, rainwater, and in recent years, bottled

water. The groundwater in the island has become salty and contaminated due to

erosion, overuse, and sewage water being pumped into the ground. In May during the

dry season, the island now runs out of potable water. A population boom,

mismanagement of water resources and unpredictable rainfall usually has led to this

shortage. According to Dhidhoo Island Council, the government provides up to 90

tonnes of desalinated water (produced in neighboring Kulhudhuffushi Island) to plug

the annual shortage in Dhihdhoo.

PHOTO: Ali Nishan

“The ocean used to be 250

feet away from the house,

but now in stormy weather,

waves lap at my front door”

Resident of HA. Dhidhoo,

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak


In 2011, the Government of the United States announced and

signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of

Maldives for a total of US$ 7.3 million project to provide an

island-wide solid waste management and an island-wide

desalinated water supply system, piped and metered to individual

households in Dhidhoo and LH.Hinnavaru. On 27 September

2011, USAID directly subcontracted the water project to an

American company Chemonics International. For this project the

selection of the project was carried out by the donor directly.

However, with the exception of repeated announcements by the

two most recent US Ambassadors to Maldives, there were no

further news of the solid waste management system.

Furthermore, to date the promised water supply system has not


Community Commitment

Public expectations regarding the water project are high on

Dhidhoo. On July 10, 2012, the US Ambassador Patricia Butenis

visited Dhidhoo and pledged to provide a safe water system and

improve the existing sewerage system on the island.

USAID had chosen Dhidhoo and Hinnavaru Islands as the same

agency had installed a sewerage system in Dhidhoo and assisted

in the installation of a 30 tonne desalination plant in Hinnavaru

in 2010.
According to Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE),

Chemonics International carried out several studies during 2012

– the first year of the project.

One such study, titled “A financial analysis of waterand sewer

infrastructure alternatives”, completed in May 2012, detailed out

the financial capacity to operate the planned water supply

system. The study concluded that there were insufficient funds

for a piped water network and recommended alternative methods

such as having a truck transport water to households. Chemonics

International proposed to install a central water supply using rainwater storage in community water tanks by means of

community tap bay.

However, MEE rejected the proposal, reminding USAID that the

original project proposal approved by government was to install

a piped and metered water supply to every household in both

Hinnavaru and Dhidhoo. The ministry said these plans had

already been communicated to the island councils as well as the

beneficiary communities and said the project must be

implemented according to the approved scope.

In December 2012, USAID informed the Government only US$

1 million remained for infrastructure development.

After several discussions and negotiations, in May 2013, USAID

agreed to allocate an additional US$ 3 million for infrastructure

development; a figure only sufficient for a piped network in

Hinnavaru, only one of the two islands. The government was left

with the task of explaining to the community of Dhidhoo that the

project will not proceed due to insufficient funds while at the

same time it is unclear why this happened.

Lack of information

Dhidhoo, as the capital of Haa Alif atoll and comprising a large

population, is a priority island for the government. However, the

government had not included provisions for a water system for

Dhidhoo in the state budget due to the USAID project.

Dhidhoo Island council member Abdulla Siraj criticized USAID

saying: “For a long time we were unaware of what was going on.

They come to this island every two months, but we don’t see

what they do. Are they trying to show us a dream?” he said.

Expectations are high on the island, Siraj said adding, “Everyone

knows the money has been allocated. The US Ambassador came

here. There is a project office, but we do not know what is

happening. Of the total amount for the two islands, we do not

know how much was allocated for Dhidhoo”

PHOTO: Transparency Maldives

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak’s home – the ocean used to be 250 feet away but now, during stormy weather waves lap at her front door.

Raising awareness for phantom projects

Donors must not allocate funds for soft components if there is no

money for infrastructure, the MEE has said.

“During this project, a lot of money has been spent on studying

various options with various consultants. Similar studies have

been done in other islands. I do not believe such studies need to

be done every single time,” a Director General at MEE said.

While the studies were ongoing, Chemonics International has

subcontracted local NGO Live and Learn to conduct awareness

projects on the island. A Live and Learn Staff Usman Ashraf said

he has conducted three awareness projects this year on water

management and safe use of drinking water. These activities are

now being questioned as the final project is not being delivered

and furthermore seen as wasteful as the issue of lack of funds for

infrastructure component is raised by the donor. “They have

wasted the allocated money on staff salaries, awareness programs

and useless studies,” Siraj said.

Donors must understand the scope of the projects they commit to,

MEE said. “When we say we want a piped network, they have to

understand what it means. We have emails and communications

that very clearly states that the government wants a piped

network in Dhidhoo and a piped network is expensive,” they


According to MEE, the project had also been impacted due to the

USAID focal point changing over time and different individuals

visiting the Maldives for follow-up visits.

Who should raise the alarm bell?

Had Chemonics International been reporting to the MEE, the

ministry could have intervened to stop use of funds on repetitive

studies. The contractors did not report to directly to MEE on a

regular basis because the project was implemented outside the

normal Government procedures. Projects are audited by the

Auditor General’s Office only by specific request of the donor.

Alternatively such projects would be audited by a private audit

firm, which may not capture the progress of projects against the

intended work-plan nor analyse the benefit to communities and

adherence to government policies. Such aspects are addressed

by Auditor General’s Office and government encourages more

involvement of AGO in donor funded projects as well. Such

projects also need to be reported on a regular basis to the central

monitoring agency of the government, Office of Programmes

and Projects who conducts onsite monitoring of projects they

oversee. No government agency also visited the island to assess

progress for this project. In addition, keeping the local councils

more informed is also a crucial monitoring strategy. For this

project, Dhidhoo council noted that they never received a

workplan or a copy of the contract made with Chemonics and

thus they were unable to monitor or report any delays.

Dhidhoo’s water project demonstrates the importance of donors

collaborating with the government in project implementation,

monitoring and oversight. Dhidhoo further shows project

designs need to align with community needs, and must be

implemented with the participation of government and local


Sustainable Solution

Meanwhile, Zubaidha continues to hope for a water system. She

is waiting for a gutter system to be installed in her house so she

can collect rainwater for drinking and cooking.

“But a tank is not a sustainable solution. We want safe water in

our plumbing system too,” she said. “I’m hoping we get potable

water as soon as possible. We are constantly told we will get it

soon, people are constantly coming to survey, but we have not

seen a solution yet.”

Aishath Reetho, Senior Planner at Ministry of Housing and

Infrastructure said the government is now negotiating with a

private party to develop the water and sewerage system in

Dhidhoo under a public-private-partnership model. The private

party is to be offered concessions to build luxury villas in an

uninhabited island in Baa Atoll in return for 400 housing units

and a water and sewerage system in Dhidhoo. If the project is

approved, it will take another two years to complete the water

system. While the community waits for this untested model to

be successful, will they ever know why funds dried up for the

promised project?

Click to view/download the case study

The lack of knowledge in the fast evolving landscape of global climate finance was evident in recent public sessions organized by Transparency Maldives, despite the image of Maldives as the poster child of climate change impacts in the global media. These sessions were held to increase participation of the general public in an e-learning course that was developed by Transparency International, with the purpose of spreading awareness of corruption risks in climate finance. The online course, designed for the general public, can be completed at the individual’s own pace.

Transparency Maldives conducted four sessions in December 2013 to guide interested participants through the course. The sessions allowed discussions, exchange of knowledge and opinions. Participants were given information on the main findings from the recent research by Transparency Maldives on climate finance issues in the Maldives.

Participants of Youth Leadership Programme of 2013
Participants of Youth Leadership Programme of 2013

Special invitations were also extended to the students of BSc in Environmental Sciences at the Maldives National University, staff of relevant government offices and participants of the Youth Leadership Program, organized by Democracy House, a local NGO. A total of 33 participants participated in four sessions held in December 2013. An additional 29 persons had signed up for the e-learning course directly.

Student of BSc in Environmental Sciences Maldives National University The course builds on technical knowledge of the students to complement practical challenges of implementation
Student of BSc in Environmental Sciences, Maldives National University. The course builds on technical knowledge of the students to complement practical challenges of implementation

The structure of the course and its presentation helped participants from diverse backgrounds and levels of technical knowledge, follow the discussions and complete the course.

Commenting on the main take-away of the course, Malaka Abdul Hameed, Senior Planning Officer of the Ministry of Tourism said, “I learnt a lot about the different forms of corruption and how it impacts climate finance governance.

”The course contains three modules. The first module is an Introduction to Climate Finance.This contains a brief background to causes and impacts of climate change and how different countries respond. The module then goes on to explore the sources of climate finance and how these funds are currently channeled to the affected countries.

The mix of graduate students and government staff allowed lively discussions and exchange of experiences
The mix of graduate students and government staff allowed lively discussions and exchange of experiences

The second is Corruption Risks and Solutions. It includes introduction to types of corruption and provides real stories of how climate finance has been affected by corruption.

This combination of topics makes the course useful for those who are learning about the issues, working in implementing or monitoring these projects, or those interested in ensuring climate sustainability.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge to ensuring climate finance transparency, is the lack of availability of relevant information,” Haleemath Layan Abdulla, aged 16, a participant of the e-learning course said.

The course also includes a discussion forum, where participants may network, post comments and thoughts on the issues covered.

The course is available to any interested person to sign up.  Please contact TM if you have any queries or wish to organize sessions.

The course was developed as part of the Climate Finance Integrity Program, a research and advocacy program conducted by 6 chapters and TI-S to assess risks to Climate Finance. The CFIP program was funded by the German Ministry of Environment.

The Climate Finance Integrity Programme was piloted in 2011 by Transparency International in six countries, including the Maldives, to monitor the increasing climate related finance, the governance of raising and managing these funds and the governance of these funds within the selected countries. This report is the national report for the mapping assessment conducted for Maldives. The research has briefly looked at all government institutions that were active during the research phase, from 2011 to mid-2013, in the delivery and monitoring of climate change projects that were funded by the government or externally.


Read the full report here Assessment of Climate Finance in the Maldives

The Government of the Maldives is in the process of establishing Maldives Green Fund (MGF), under a Presidential Decree. Currently, the proposed legal forms for the Fund include either State Owned Enterprise coming under the Companies Act or a Trust Fund coming under Public Finance Act provision.

The MGF will handle climate finance on a range of sectors, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and waste management among others. Once established programmes such as Scaling Up of Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Programme in the Maldives, projected to be worth USD139 million, will come under MGF.

This document outlines Transparency Maldives’ general comments and proposals on the documents establishing MGF.


Maldives Green Fund: General Policy Brief