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Private sector to adopt islands in the Maldives

Private sector to adopt islands in the Maldives

Male, Maldives, 8 February -- Big businesses are readying to adopt small islands in the Maldives through a pioneering effort aimed at helping people affected by the tsunami to rebuild their homes. The ADOPT AN ISLAND initiative was officially launched in the Maldives today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at precisely 9:30 am: the exact time the gigantic tsunami devastated one-third of the Maldives’ inhabited islands, just over a month ago.

The new initiative invites private donors to ADOPT AN ISLAND and thereby directly help one or more among the worst affected communities to rebuild or repair their houses.

In the Maldives, the tsunami forced thousands of people from their homes and, in some cases, their communities.13 islands had to be completely abandoned as all the buildings and infrastructure were smashed and fresh water sources contaminated by the sea.

Now, for the first time in its history, the Maldives has internally displaced people, numbering in the thousands. “While everyone in the Maldives has made great efforts to rebuild their shattered communities, outside assistance is needed if the challenge of rebuilding one-third of the countries’ inhabited islands is to be meet,” UNDP Resident Representative Moez Doraid said.

Earlier, the UN made an appeal to donor countries for funds to support critical relief and recovery efforts in the Maldives but, despite the overwhelming generosity for tsunami-affected people, until now only half the money needed by the UN has been secured. Critical areas such as rebuilding homes and helping people get back to work are still seriously under funded.

The ADOPT AN ISLAND initiative provides a new avenue for private donors to help some of the worst hit communities in the Maldives. "Recovery begins with a home,” Mr. Doraid said. He explained that ADOPT AN ISLAND was part of a programme to address the immediate and now urgent need for shelter in the Maldives.

Companies or donors who ADOPT AN ISLAND can directly support some of the most devastated communities to rebuild or repair their homes, Mr. Doraid said. Adoptions would cover the cost of purchasing and delivering essential construction materials like cement, steel, timber and tin. Island rebuilding teams would be established and paid through the programme, generating much needed income opportunities for many islanders.

The most expensive adoption (4.4 million USD) would enable more than a thousand people to rebuild and move back into their homes. At the other end of the scale, 95,000 USD would help 58 families mend their dwellings.

Mr. Doraid said the ADOPT AN ISLAND initiative had generated great interest from the private sector even before the official launch today, and several companies were within days of adopting an island.

“Hundreds of communities in the Maldives are scared by the biggest natural disaster ever to strike this nation. By adopting an island, donors to the initiative can send a direct message of solidarity and hope to the people of the Maldives,” he said.

Those interested to support the ADOPT AN ISLAND initiative can send an email to: adoptanisland@undp.org, or visit http://www.mv.undp.org/.

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