ADAPTATION FUND: Integrated Water Resource Management Project (IWRM)


 Freshwater is a scarce resource in Maldivian islands. Photo: Veronica Wijaya/UNDP Maldives 2006.

The objective of the project was to ensure reliable and safe freshwater supply for Maldivian communities in a changing climate.

As surface freshwater is generally lacking throughout the country, the key problems pertaining to long-term freshwater security relate to the management of increasingly variable rainwater resources and increasingly saline and polluted groundwater. The project aimed to demonstrate climate-smart freshwater management in the Maldivian context and establish integrated and resilient water supply systems on the densely-populated islands of Haa Alif Ihavandhoo, Alif Dhaal Mahibadhoo and Gaafu Dhaal Gadhdhoo islands, with a view on country-wide replication and up-scaling.

In this regard, the project aimed to address the effects of variable rainfall, extreme weather events, salinization and pollution of aquifers:

·        Establishment of a sustainable freshwater supply system that incorporates desalination and rainwater harvesting technology;

·        Establishment of a sustainable groundwater management system that incorporates groundwater recharge and wastewater management technology;

·        Increasing community participation in the development, allocation and monitoring of freshwater use in a changing climate;

·        Replication and up scaling of climate-resilient freshwater management

Our Work & Results

 In many islands, freshwater is not available in the households and people have to walk the distance to access water from the communal taps. Photo: UNDP Maldives 2012.

·        The concept designs for the IWRM system was developed with strong involvement from all stakeholders. The concept integrates rainwater harvesting, ground water recharging and supplying of desalinated water in order to combat the shortage of drinking water faced in these three islands during dry periods. Based on further studies and consultations, detailed designs of the IWRMs were developed and implemented in the three islands.

·        The project contributed to the AF Goal in the sense that it moved Maldives on a trajectory towards adaptation and self-sufficiency at the island level, starting from a baseline characterised by limited amounts of private supplies of rainwater water and expensive desalinated water. The island water supply systems installed represent a milestone on a critical path towards a communal management of water resources.

·        A paradigm shift towards a communal management of water resources, rather than self-reliance at the household level, is critical towards the eventual possibility of communal management of the aquifer- a common resource which will be essential to reducing vulnerability to climate change.

·        As IWRM is a relatively new concept to the Maldives, the project developed an awareness strategy which can be used in the target three islands and nationwide to raise awareness on IWRM and good practices of water management.

·        Paying for drinking water being a new concept for these islands, the project recognised the need to ensure that the system is acceptable and affordable for the community. In this regard, a willingness to pay survey was undertaken in the three islands.

·        The AF project has had a catalytic effect, such that a number of projects are being designed at Ministry of Environment and Energy are based on the AF concept. For example, the recently won investment funds from the Green Climate Fund and a USAID-funded project in Hinnavaru and Thoddoo, as was a 3-island concept design on Mulah, Dhiggaru and Maamigili. There is an intention by MEE to review all new water and projects on the basis of IWRM.

·        The project had success in its influence in changing mind-sets on how to ‘do’ integrated water resources management than in implementing a successful model.

·        For 2017, the following activities are planned to ensure sustainability:

-         National awareness campaign on AF project results – lessons learned

-         Preparation of a workable IWM model for Maldives and training of Water Department and Environment Protection Agency on model requirements

-         Capacity building for operation and maintenance of RO plants, laboratory, solar panels, etc.

-         Capacity building for senior and mid-level management of STELCO and Fenaka

-         Capacity building on water and sanitation

-         Establishment of a specialized technical monitoring system



YEARS 2011-2015 
Adaptation Fund US$ 8,285,000
Co-financing (total): US$ 1,800,000
     -  Government (in-kind) US$  1,800,000


YEARS 2011-2015
2012 US$ 289,944
2013 US$ 988,786
2014 US$ 5,883,303
2015 US$ 45,602
Total  US$ 7,207,635 (87%)