Environmental Sanitation on Dhambidhoo Island

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Project ID

Project Title

Environmental Sanitation on Dhambidhoo Island


Water Supply and Sanitation

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Lead Organization(s)

Project Partners



Total: $450,000;

Sources of Financing: UN-Habitat, UNICEF, Coca-Cola, UNF, AUSAID, Government of Maldives





Project website(s)





To support the longer-term tsunami recovery effort in Asia, The Coca-Cola Company and the United Nations Foundation forged in 2005 a collaborative partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support community-based water and sanitation reconstruction efforts in tsunami-affected areas of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

In the Maldives, the project is focused on the remote island community of Dhambidhoo, situated 228 km to the south of the capital, Male’. Dhambidhoo Island was badly hit by the 2004 tsunami disaster. Forty-eight houses were damaged and a further twenty-nine were destroyed. In addition, salt-water incursion exacerbated the vulnerability of the island environment. Full recovery of the freshwater lens is expected to take years.

In support of UNDP’s post-tsunami recovery program, The Coca-Cola Company, the UN Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) have funded a much-needed water and sanitation project on Dhambidhoo. When completed, this will be one of the first islands in the Maldives other than Male’ and the resort islands to provide sustainable sanitation services to all its residents.

At the completion of this project, all households and public buildings will be fitted with a durable, water-tight septic tank and connected to a sewage network. Through this sanitation model, the effluent discharge from household septic tanks will be channeled safely through a network of pipes to a treatment plant and after passing through a biological filter, will be used for irrigation or disposed to a soakage pit to recharge groundwater. This will bring an end to the pre-tsunami practice of discharging raw sewage directly into the island’s lagoon or into the groundwater. In this way, the project strongly supports the post-tsunami approach of “building back better.”

The project is being implemented in close partnership with local authorities, community leaders, and the Dhambidhoo Island Development Committee to ensure continued local relevance, true community ownership, and sustainability. The new sanitation system will be managed by the community and will be both environmentally and financially sustainable. Island residents will be provided with the necessary training and technical assistance to operate and manage the system in an effective manner.

Provision of adequate sanitation has been identified as a pressing national challenge and is an integral component of the UN’s post-tsunami Shelter Recovery Project, a joint collaboration between UNDP and UN-HABITAT. The “Dhambidhoo model” has been designed so that it can be replicated in other island communities across the Maldives.

Expected Outcomes

Achievements: Results and Impact

Lessons for Replication



See also

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    External Resources


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