The unique geographic attributes of the Maldives make its water resource situation both complex and diverse. With widely ranging populations numbers on the islands, even basic water and sanitation service must be tailored to local resources and population needs. Management of the limited water resources is complicated due to the small catchment areas for rainfall, limited rainwater and groundwater storage capacity, long dry seasons, and the susceptibility of groundwater aquifers to pollution and salinity intrusion.
The outer islands of the Maldives already experience drinking water shortages during the dry season. These shortages have had significant adverse human, environmental and social impacts on the outer island communities. The key problems pertaining to freshwater security relate to the increasingly variable rainfall patterns induced by climate change and sea-level rise induced salinity of groundwater. A sea level rise and decreasing rainfall amounts will considerably compound current water stress in the country. The Government faces constraints in responding to the challenge at hand without assistance, especially in the context of anticipated impacts of climate change.
As water security is closely bound to rainfall and sea level rise in Maldives, the adaptation scenario will demand: (i) the rainfall collection capacity to increase at least threefold; (ii) groundwater controlled extraction and replenishment to keep water table levels high in order to buffer away saltwater intrusion; and (iii) increased water production capacity through desalinization (Reversed Osmosis – RO technology), as to secure sufficient back up resource during the extended dry periods for household supply and timely distribution.
In response to this challenge, the proposed project objective is to deliver safe and secure freshwater to 105,000 people in the 49 target islands of Maldives in the face of climate change risks. This will be achieved by delivering the following results:
- Scaling up integrated water supply system to provide safe water to vulnerable households (at least 32,000 people, including 15,000 women);
- Decentralized and cost-effective dry season water supply system introduced benefiting 73,000 people across 7 Northern Atolls;?
- Groundwater quality improved to secure freshwater reserves for long term resilience on 49 islands;
The project will provide sufficient water to supply the potable water needs of island residents year-round for a 35-year design period to 2050. Project finance will be used to establish an integrated water resources management system that integrates the three main sources of water (rainwater, groundwater and desalinated water) into a least cost delivery system and which is able to maintain service levels against a context of rainfall variability and sea level rise and includes measures for groundwater quality recovery to secure freshwater reserves in the long term.
Ultimately, the project will achieve an uninterrupted water supply on the islands that currently experience a 90 day chronic water shortage during dry season and depend on transported water from Male’, which is an extensive, overlong and costly operation. As a result of the project, 49 priority islands will have increased rainwater collection capacities, out of which, 4 bigger islands will additionally have water production systems of water desalination (Reverse Osmosis – RO water production plants), that will secure sufficient water production capacity enabling a decentralized and timely water distribution across all northern outer atolls during the extended dry periods, when shortages may occur. ?
Water stress alert information based on forecasted meteorological information will feed into the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for system management, thereby protecting lives and livelihoods from environmental risks associated with climate change. This will also feed into strengthening the Meteorological – MMS services on reaching out to the communities actionable early warning information, and preparing the water utilities, island councils and the communities to receive and act on such information. The system will achieve cost effectiveness in service provision through effective management of water resources and the use of renewable energy and locally appropriate technologies. Alongside the system design will be a capacity development workstream designed to obtain the support and ownership from communities, which is necessary for financial sustainability of the system, as well as the capacity development of the State Utilities (such as FENAKA and STELCO) to manage service delivery, and of the decentralized authorities and central government to provide an enabling environment for sustainability and scale up.
Objective of the assignment:
The main purpose of this assignment is to provide the leadership and guidance to the technical and management units towards achieving the project objective and related results. The CTA shall carry out the work in accordance with the terms of reference outlined in this document and shall report to Water and Sanitation Department or designated person from MEE, Project Board and the UNDP Resident Representative. In order to assist the government of Maldives achieve the stated project objective above, the CTA is expected to carry out the tasks as described below.