M. Blome (Project Manager), written almost 3 years ago
arkipal e.V. News:
Waste management and renewable energies in Maldives
Since November this year arkipal is back in Maldives to continue overseas operations and to get back in contact with our existing network over the tropical islands. This second trip of 2012 will also enable us to build new connections as we put our plans into action.
As first chairwomen of arkipal, Mascha Blome will to continue with existing connections and continue to build new ones with local islands, Resorts and Safari boat owners concerning renewable energies, waste management and environmental awareness. Our goal is now to give awareness about the issues that come with climate change, tourism and waste in the AOSIS (Alliance of small island States) and try to support these States directly. As we are currently in the Maldives we want to set an example for sustainability of this beautiful location so it can continue to be discovered for years to come.
Even if the tourism industry is the biggest income for the Maldives, it brings a lot of issues to the small island state. For example all imported items have to be moved by air transport and cargo ships, which produces a lot of CO2. The bigger problem is all of the remains of these items like plastic bottles, batteries and other packaging is until now not recyclable. At present there is no other way than collect and burn it all.
Thilafushi, locally named „the rubbish island“ is an artificial made landfill in the crystal clear waters near Malé. Made out of all the rubbish from the capital and the close by resort islands, a coral reef lagoon was reclaimed from the sea where they used all of the waste to create this new island. At the moment this is the only place where people can dump their rubbish and if this place is too far, every local island has its own little dumpsite. But unfortunately it happens very often that people (locals and the resorts too) dump their rubbish on the beach and in the ocean so chemicals, small plastic particles (mermaid tears) and other rubbish makes its way onto the reefs, harms animals, pollutes beaches and spoils the ocean.
In the field of renewable energies arkipal plans a show house on the local island called Velidhoo in the Noonu Atoll. We want to equip a café situated in the harbour area with solar energy, a biogas unit and LED lights. As both Maldivians and tourists visit this house, this popular restaurant is a perfect establishment in order to get people interested and to show them the efficiency and cost saving of these renewable energies. When the Maldivian inhabitants see that they can produce gas for cooking out of their kitchen waste, we hope to convince them to invest, as they see personal benefit in the long run. Unfortunately the Maldivians’ and even the café, which we would like to use as a show house, do not have such an amount of money initially available and depend on sponsors and donations in order to start up.
The time to start is now. We need to find sponsors and cooperation partners in the renewable energy or similar field, to help us realise and document the show house in the near future as arkipals’ first exemplary project on a local island in the Maldives. With a short documentary video we want to try to make people aware of the waste problems, which comes with the tourism and globalisation. It’s these factors plus climate change issues by which the small island states are affected the first. This will not be about blaming somebody; it will essentially be about showing the different opportunities for saving the Maldives and other threatened countries.
First of all arkipal wants to act as a good example for resort owners and the tourists, to show them that they should give something back to this wonderful environment which they are using for personal gain, instead of just exploiting it! It is imperative that this unique environment can stay as it is or even get healthier again. People both here and over the entire world has to act now and work together. The most important steps to take will be to make everybody aware of these threats and try to work against them with renewable energies, conservation programs, waste management and awareness sessions for tourists and locals. A lot of tourists come to the local islands for a day trip, in particular from Resorts to Velidhoo, but only see the „nice“ parts of them. We would like to show them the „real“ Maldives, „behind“ the scene as a developing country with environmental and social issues. At the same time there already are a lot of local NGOs and sustainable projects, working in these fields which arkipal want to offer them to experience too.
Our first cooperation partner is the Maldivian NGO VFF (Velidhoo Future Foundation). On the local island Velidhoo in the Noonu Atoll, we started a waste management program in February 2012 and organised dustbins for the streets and convinced the council to sponsor the once a week pick-up service to bring them to the dumpsite. Unfortunately the bins are not really used and by doing a survey in the houses, we are currently trying to find out why. In the near future arkipal and VFF will distribute another 22 dustbins around the streets and beaches in Velidhoo. We will explain and announce this after we have finished our survey, do a beach cleaning and declare the beaches as rubbish free! We hope that this will last for our first local island!
Anyway it would be very helpful and effective for our work here in the Maldives, if we could find some sponsors, partners and helpful contacts to allow us to continue our work and start new projects on other local islands...
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