Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT this week visited Maldives where UNDP and UN-HABITAT are jointly rebuilding homes on 58 islands in the Indian Ocean archipelago devastated by last December’s tsunami.
Mrs. Tibaijuka travelled to Meemu Atoll and met with the Atoll Chief and 5 island chiefs in Muli, the Atoll capital. She planted a tree and laid a brick to symbolise a new beginning for these islands.
In the capital, Male, she was also the guest of honour at a dinner hosted by Mr. Ibrahim Rafeeq, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development. Other dignitaries included the Ministers of Planning and Development, Construction and Public Infrastructure, Defence, Finance, Atolls Development and Foreign Affairs.
Mrs. Tibaijuka acknowledged the good progress and emphasized the importance of rebuilding homes in economically viable areas. In her view, a home is the first critical piece of helping restore people’s livelihoods. This is especially true in the Maldives, where many people have home-based businesses that were washed away by tsunami.
In the Maldives, it is estimated that that it will cost $19 million to repair and reconstruct the 1,300 homes that the Government of the Maldives has requested of the UN. Currently, the UNDP/UN-HABITAT shelter project faces a US$7 million shortfall. The UN is appealing to donors to come forward to help with the tsunami reconstruction effort. But in the aftermath of other recent disasters, such as the hurricanes in the US and the earthquake in South Asia, the Maldives faces challenges in securing all the funds for shelter recovery that is required.
Ten months after the tsunami, 11,300 people are still waiting to return to their homes. UNDP and UN-HABITAT are committed to continuing their work with affected communities to restore people’s lives and livelihoods throughout the Maldives. Mrs. Tibaijuka visited Maldives 21-23 October.