Maldives Ari Atoll Solid Waste Management

April 11, 2014


The project as a pilot to establish integrated solid waste management system in scattered islands has started to demonstrate the benefits through waste segregation at the household level, composting of organic waste and recycling to reduce the amount of waste to be disposed and to prevent spillage to the critical marine environment. Solid waste management now benefits 900 people on the island of Ulkulhas.


Solid waste is the most visible environmental threat to the Maldives. The management of solid waste is especially challenging due to the small island sizes, small population on the islands and lack of economic activities. With a population spread across the island chain there is little scope for harnessing economies of scale due to large costs of transportation and low volumes, making the costs of service delivery high.  This poses a substantial risk to the country’s reputation as an unspoiled tropical “paradise”. The scarce surface area of any island in the archipelago puts a premium on the value of land and limits on the landfill method traditionally used in many parts of the world.  The amount of waste generated far exceeds the capacity of available landfills which are basically uncontained open dumps. Current arrangements for solid waste management on most inhabited islands are inadequate. A major portion of the wastes are dumped onto the island foreshore and burned at low combustion temperatures.


The solid waste management challenge in the Maldives requires a scalable and replicable model on solid waste management on inhabited islands to improve environmental outcomes.  The project has been designed as a demonstration project to provide an integrated and cost effective solution to operationalize island waste management centers and effective institutional arrangement to sustain the system in response to national policy for solid waste management and national waste management strategies, as well as reducing the environmental risks to marine habitats and greenhouse gas emissions in response to carbon neutrality by 2020 of the Government of Maldives.


As a small pilot project with an implementation period of less than 2 years, the outcomes have been focused at the intermediary level. One out of 5 targeted islands (Ukulhas) integrated solid waste management has fully been realized first batch of marketable compost produced by February 2013, with capacity to provide field-based training on integrated solid waste management to other inhabited islands.

Solid waste segregation, recycling, composting and collection of user fee are fully operational in Ukulhas with 100% of the island community of 900 people benefiting from the overall environmental outcome of a cleaner island. Three islands have island waste management plans in place. All 5 islands are trained on integrated solid waste management.

Bank Group Contribution        

The project was fully financed by an European Union and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank with a total project cost of US$ 1.326 million since November 2012.


The project is led by the Environmental Protection Agency and Ministry of Environment and Energy with strong partnership with island councils of the 5 participating islands. The overall trust fund is governed by the National Planning Council, Climate Change Advisory Council and Technical Committee. The European Union  as the main donor to the trust fund, also plays a key oversight role through periodic reviews of implementation progress and achievement of trust fund outcomes. 

Moving Forward 

The Government of Maldives is committed to address the solid waste management problem in the country due to its impact on its key economic sector, tourism with its introduction of solid waste management policy and regulations which requires the inhabited islands to prevent waste spillage to coastal and marine environment since 2013. With this cost-effective and scalable model of integrated solid waste management, the state budget will cover the construction of new island waste management centers and operationalize the existing ones. EU has expressed further financing and many other donors to the Maldives are also exploring on investing on replicating the model. In addition, though Maldives Environmental Management Project, this model is also replicated in 45 islands in Northern Province of the Maldives.

people enjoying better sanitation and improved environment.