Environmental management is constrained by the lack of technical and managerial capacity to deliver the required environmental infrastructure to monitor and control environmental impacts. The World Bank-supported Maldives Environmental Management Project is addressing these constraints, developing an integrated solid waste management system in the North Province. The construction of the regional waste management facility is proceeding ahead of schedule and is likely to finish by May 2014. The waste incinerator is expected to be ready by October 2014. The completion of the island waste management centers and the residual waste transfer vessel is expected by June 2014 and December 2014, respectively. The project’s final target for the user fee collection in 50 percent of the participating islands was achieved 1.5 years ahead of schedule. The project’s final phase, namely operationalizing the system as the much needed model for regional solid waste management will be the project’s most critical challenge.
Considerable progress was made in building human and technical capacity, including the creation of a cadre of trained civil servants, enhanced access to information from environmental monitoring and research to support planning processes as well as community participation in environmental management in 75 percent of the targeted islands.
The World Bank is supporting the government’s efforts to move to a carbon-neutral economy. Emphasis is being placed on shifting away from diesel as the primary fuel for electricity generation and on acquiring the necessary technical and institutional capacity in renewable energy technologies and operations. The Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation Project under the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) program is designed to demonstrate the techno-economic viability of integrating renewable energy technologies into the power mix in island communities as a model for future interventions in energy mitigation in the Maldives. The project is currently under implementation. The World Bank has also been supporting the regulator, the Maldives Energy Authority, through various trust fund resources to support the development of a robust regulatory framework for the energy sector.
The CCTF’s will support the development and implementation of the climate change strategy for Maldives, and build a climate -resilient economy and society through adaptation and mitigation activities.
The government is proactively undertaking health sector reforms, particularly to the health insurance system. The World Bank has worked closely with the Ministry of Health and the National Social Protection Agency to compile and analyze the necessary evidence to inform the ongoing reforms to the country’s universal health insurance scheme, Aasandha, and its predecessor, Madhana. The main challenge facing Aasandha relates to its fiscal sustainability. As discussed in a recent World Bank Policy Note, substantive savings for the scheme could be achieved by reducing the cost of medicines through the bulk procurement of essential and generic drugs and by reducing expenditure on overseas treatment through negotiation of close-ended package rates with providers. Yet another area for policy action is improved case management of patients with chronic illnesses at the primary care level. All these measures, while improving the scheme’s long-run fiscal sustainability, will also have positive distributional implications, particularly with respect to the decrease in the cost of drugs, which would particularly help the poorest segments of the population. The Government has requested continued World Bank technical assistance with the ongoing reform process.
Increasing the number of well-educated and qualified Maldivians is extremely important for the country’s continued growth and to reduce the reliance on expensive expatriate labor. At present, the country depends heavily on expensive overseas labor for technical, administrative and managerial jobs, as there are insufficient Maldivians with higher secondary and tertiary level qualifications to take up these positions. The World Bank is supporting government efforts to expand higher secondary and tertiary education and improve the quality of education at all levels. Building on recent World Bank analytical work and earlier lending operation in the education sector, the Enhancing Education Development Project approved in April 2013 will be focusing on increasing the survival rate of students through secondary education, establishment of a system of national assessments of learning outcomes and development of a quality assurance system for schools. The project will cover the entire country, including the outer atolls, in an effort to promote equitable growth and development.