Maldives Requires US$ 239 million In Relief
“Maldives requires US$ 239 million in emergency relief aid, and a further US$ 1.3 billion in the next three to five years for reconstruction after the tsunami”, says President Gayoom
6 January 2005 (Thursday) – The President of Maldives, His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, this morning said that an estimated US$ 239 million was required as emergency relief aid, and a further US$ 1.3 billion was needed over the next 3 to 5 years for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the Maldives, after the tsunami of 26 December. He made the statement in his address at the Special ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in the Aftermath of the Earthquake and Tsunami, which was held today in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
The President appealed for urgent assistance for reconstruction and recovery. He said that the tsunami had, within a matter of minutes, destroyed much of the infrastructure built over two decades of development in the Maldives. He noted that the Government’s priorities were to rehabilitate the lives and livelihoods of tsunami victims, provide shelter to internally displaced persons, reconstruct and repair social and economic infrastructure, and generate economic recovery to pre-tsunami levels.
Elaborating on the effects of the tsunami, the President said that the ecological impact was yet unfathomable. He said that the massive force and pressure of the waves had washed out the topsoil of the islands onto the reef. He added that the long-term damage of this sudden erosion and silting of the reefs on the country’s agriculture and fisheries was yet to be assessed.
The President said that the tsunami had taken many lives in the Maldives, and that socioeconomic infrastructure was destroyed in many parts of the country. He said that whole communities had suffered economic ruin, and that fishing boats on numerous islands had been damaged, thus threatening the economic survival of these islands. Noting that the economic lifeblood of one of the islands that he had visited after the tsunami was its banana crop, the President recalled that the plantain fields had been completely devastated, and that the island had become non-arable. Speaking on the importance of jetties in an island’s development, he noted that without them, islands lose their trade, especially those who had catered to visitors from resorts. Further, he pointed out that it was imperative that the destroyed livelihoods were restored and those economically vibrant islands rehabilitated.
“In proportionate terms, the Maldives may be the worst affected country. The Maldives has been the most vulnerable to the rising seas even before the tsunami struck. The country has now become the most crippled,” President Gayoom said in his address.
Speaking to the press a short while after the President’s address in Jakarta, member of the Maldives’ delegation at the Meeting, the Chief Government Spokesman, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, noted that preliminary estimates of recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction cost was US$ 4.412 billion.
“As the President noted in his address, the emergency relief efforts to save lives and livelihoods over the next 12 months has been estimated at US$ 239 million. This will include building temporary shelters for the 15,000 people who are internally displaced as a result of the tsunami, as well as utilities such as water and sanitation, food and medical supplies. It also includes transport and communications, infrastructure, resources and teachers for education, assistance to vulnerable persons, resorting livelihoods, repairing damaged housing and management costs,” Dr. Shaheed said.
“The rehabilitation and reconstruction over the next 3 to 5 years is estimated at US$ 1.325 billion, and will including housing, water and sanitation, health, education, communication infrastructure, public infrastructure such as mosques and roads, repairing and restoring coastal structures, tourism and fisheries infrastructure, and agriculture. It will also include repairs to the country’s only international airport, as well as business losses and reef losses and rehabilitation.
“Authorities estimate that a further US$ 2.848 billion will be required beyond the fifth year, for environmental protection and mitigation. This phase will include coastline rehabilitation and reconstruction, reef rehabilitation and protection, coastal ecosystems protection, airport protection, land elevation, a tsunami warning system and environmental monitoring capabilities,” Dr. Shaheed went on to say.