Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Internship Report on the status of Fresh Water and the Environment in the Greater Male, Maldives, by Mr. K. Wijeratne at FECT

By: K. Wijeratne
Master of Development Practice, Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. 

Status of Waste disposal in Thilafushi Island

I undertook the three months internship of my Masters in Development Practice Degree, offered by the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, at the Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (FECT), and I worked under the supervison of Dr. Lareef Zubair (Principal Scientist - Foundation of Environment and Climate Technology; & Visiting Lecturer - University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka).

The internship mainly focused on an ‘Analysis of Fresh Water in the Greater Male’, in the Republic of the Maldives.  In order to have an insight, I carried out a literature Review on fresh water/status of the environment in the Republic of the Maldives.   I worked mainly with the Maldives Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) which provides fresh water and sanitation to the Greater Male area, Maldives Meteorological Service, Hulhule, Maldives National University and Renewable Energy, Maldives.

From my visit to the Maldives Water & Sewerage Company (MWSC), and the subsequent discussion with Mr. Mohamed Rasheed, the Manager (Engineering) of MWSC, I was able to collect valuable information with respect to the past and present status of Water and Sanitation, especially in the Greater Male Area. The excerpt is given below.

“About three decades ago, almost all the people in Male city had a small well (1-2 Meters in depth) in their land plots. During that time, approximate number of dwellers were 5,000.00 to 6,000.00, and they were using their wells for domestic water requirements, including for drinking. With the development of Male city as the commercial city, the limited land area was divided into small pieces and more wells were constructed. As there was no proper awareness among the dwellers on soil condition (Permeable soil) of Male, and water pollution due to anthropogenic activities, the available limited ground water had been contaminated with sewage and other waste.  This condition resulted in the present status of water being unsuitable for drinking.  Therefore all wells in the Male city are closed permanently with concrete lids, and now water in these are used only for toilet flushing”.  Based on the information and data gathered, I was able to calculate future water demand in the Greater Male area, and the CO2 emission that would contribute to water desalination.

During the visit, I also had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Zahid, the Director of Maldives Meteorological Service. He shared his experiences on the subject with me. He explained the   unique shape of the Islands of the Republic of the Maldives and the formation of fresh water lenses. With the information he provided I was able to calculate available Fresh water capacities in the Islands of the Greater Male Area.  

I consulted Dr. Mizna Mohamed, Senior Lecturer, and few other lecturers of the Maldives National University.  They shared information with me on how they conduct programs to face the challenges with respect to fresh water and environment pollution in the Republic of the Maldives.

During the visit, I also had the opportunity to meet key personnel of “Renewal Energy”, Maldives and got an insight on their programs which contribute to the energy sustainability in the Maldives.

In order to get first-hand information on water and energy use, and knowledge on environment of the households, I carried out a survey in Hulhule, Hulhumale and Male Islands, using a questionnaire which also included demographic information.

I was able to review the solid waste management system and the planned waste management program in the Greater Male area.  To collect information on how waste is disposed in the Greater Male area, I visited Thilifushi Island, which is a reclamated Island devoted for garbage/waste disposal.  There I noticed that disposed waste/garbage (polythene/paper waste) are being dumped and burned in an open-air fire, without much concern of environment pollution.

After returning from the Maldives;
  - I summarized the survey results; developed a water balance model (using Excel software) for each island; and prepared a report and presented the material at the University of Peradeniya.


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