The extremely dispersed and fragmented population of more than a quarter of a million people makes the Maldives’ development problems unique. The very survival of the country's 1 200 low-lying islands is threatened by the constant rise in sea levels presumed to be due to global warming. This adds an environmental urgency to development support to prevent the country from disappearing as the first and most visible victim of climate change. The European Union (EU) recognises the importance of this in its cooperation activities
EU Aid programmes 2007-2013
The EU-Maldives Country Strategy (2007-2013) [165 KB] has as its main focus environmental sustainability through regional development. The multi-annual indicative programme provides for €4 million for the first four years (2007-2010).
At an international level, the European Commission is helping the Maldives strengthen its voice at climate change forums and to seek support from organisations and nations for its survival. At country level, a ‘safe islands’ approach has been put forward by the government's own National Recovery and Reconstruction Plan and, in response, the Commission is supporting environmental sustainability and, therefore, poverty reduction, particularly through the development of sustainable infrastructure and services. This includes safe water, renewable and efficient energy, air and sea transport, waste disposal, and the protection of coral reefs. To encourage islanders to move to the safe islands, help is also being provided to upgrade school and health facilities in key areas.
In addition to environmental sustainability, the European Commission is providing trade and economic assistance, partly to help cover economic losses suffered as a result of the 2004 tsunami. Democratisation and good governance are being supported through the promotion of human rights and constitutional reforms.
Regional and thematic programmes are also available to provide grant support for relevant organisations in the country.
Since 1981, the Maldives has benefited from €5 million of EU assistance. Between 1993 and 1995, three projects totalling €1.6 million were funded in the sectors of tourism, fish inspection, and empowerment of women. Two regional tourism projects have also been funded by the Commission, supporting training, technical assistance, and the drafting of a Tourism Master Plan. The Maldives were particularly badly hit by the tsunami that struck coastal parts of South and South East Asia in December 2004 and in response, following emergency relief, in May 2005, the Commission allocated €16 million for the Maldives to restart livelihoods, to repair damaged housing and social infrastructures, to set up a waste management capacity, and to enhance institutional capacity in managing of disasters and relief operations, as well as to plan and manage public finance.
The European External Action Service is responsible for drawing up the EU-Maldives cooperation strategy.
Details of these and other funded projects and programmes, including regional and thematic programmes, can be found on website of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.