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Maldive Islands

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Maldives' excellent track record of foreign aid utilization

 

 

International Development Agencies are generally wary of giving aid to third world countries. These countries rarely implement their projects as planned; results are often partial and invariably delayed. The Maldives, where more than 90% of externally aided projects are implemented fully and in time, makes a sharp contrast to all this. This and the fact that it has never defaulted on a loan have made the Maldives the darling of the donor community.    

Throughout the 80s and nineties, the Maldives has maintained an average aid inflow of between 20 and 25 million dollars per year. However, in recent years there has been a shift in the composition of aid. Earlier, a large part of the aid has been grants, whereas today the bulk of the aid is in the form of soft loans. This reflects the changed status of Maldives as a much more mature and developed nation compared to what it was in the early 80s. In other words, we have graduated out of the list of the poorest countries.

Majlis building donated by Pakistan

The new building of Citizen's Majlis.  A Pakistani donation. 

 

The main reason why we graduated so fast is good utilization of aid. Let us look briefly at what we have achieved with external aid.

The education sector is the one of the first to go in a big way for foreign aid projects in the late 70s. The results are pretty impressive. What started as a community school project in 1978 has now grown into a countrywide chain of schools numbering, 71 government schools, 174 community schools and 56 private schools. Japanese and UNICEF grant aid played a key role in this achievement. Apart from several atoll schools, Kalaafaanu School and Ghyasuddin School in Male are symbols of Japanese aid to the education sector.

IGMH donated by India

 

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital --A symbol of Indo-Maldives friendship 


The health sector has also been a significant beneficiary of external aid. The IGMH, as everybody knows, is an Indian donation to the people of the Maldives. Less well known is the aid received for other hospitals. The first regional hospital at Kulhuduffushi was established with UNICEF assistance. This was followed by the second regional hospital at Ungoofaaru built with assistance from IHAP, an international NGO. More recently, the Islamic Development Bank has aided upgrading of Kulhuduffushi Regional Hospital and the establishment of a new hospital at Thinadoo.

One of the best examples of aid initialization is the upgrading of Hulule' airport to an international airport in 1981. This was underwritten by a consortium headed by the Saudi Fund and the Kuwait Fund. The airport has opened the door for expanding tourism.

Male International Airport

 

Male' International Airport opened the door to expand tourism 



Japan has been a steady source of aid for the Maldives. Apart from the schools mentioned above, it has funded a massive coastal protection project for Male, and a Social Education Center.

One of the striking features of aid utilization has been the government's policy of using aid for improving people's living conditions. Thus the Chinese aided housing project and the Danish aided water and sanitation project has directly helped improve the living conditions in Male.

The common thread that runs through the story of successful aid utilization in the Maldives is the government's unwavering commitment to better the lost of the people.