Mention the Maldives and sandy beaches, five-star resorts, colourful coral reefs and stunning scenery come to mind - a luxurious getaway. However, the setting that gives this collection of over 1,000 low-lying islands its beauty is also its biggest curse. The country's existence is threatened by a changing climate, especially by a predicted rise in the sea level. Eighty percent of the Maldives lies no more than one metre above sea level -- not high enough, it seems, to survive long-term -- and it was seriously damaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami .

"We're one of the most vulnerable nations in the world," Abdulla Shahhid, chief of the National Disaster Management Centre is vocal about it. "We're a small civilization, and we're low-lying. The storm surges are very frequent nowadays in Maldives. The Maldives, which already suffers beach erosion and water shortages, has had to accept its citizens will one day become climate refugees as its sandy shores are washed away, but it has begun to fight back.

In Shaviyani Atoll, Milandhoo locals initiated a model bio-island. Taking a lead from a study few key issues were identified by the local community in collaboration with ADRRN members. They were heavy food dependence on capital Male, solid waste and no defence or preparedness against storms surges and creeping coastal erosion. Three key solutions emerged through a consultative process, home kitchen gardens, coastal bio shields and solid waste management- all to be owned and initiated within the local resources.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) engaged in promoting home kitchen gardens, coastal bio-shields and solid waste management. In the process it oriented local women groups to benefits of home kitchen gardens. Twenty women were trained in nutritional home gardening and eco-agricultural practices using local resources. Tray nursery methods were introduced to get good quality seedlings. As a result gardens have extended and new varieties of vegetables were introduced. The Island office was approached by 50 families to extend field cultivation of vegetables in a common shrubby area. Similarly multi- species  bio shields were developed in an area of 600 mts along the coast to address the coastal environmental problems such as beach erosion , storm surge  with suitable plants ( Kuredhi, Digga,Nikka,Hirundhu and Coconut) were identified by the island elders . A nursery was raised for three species in the island office premise. Island office, Island chiefs ,youth groups and environmental club , school teachers in school were the key participants in the process. Hands-on training were imparted to these groups to manage bio shields on a cost effective and participatory manner.

Nina Fujbiyasi Project Co-ordinator says- It was initially difficult to link poor environmental management to future disaster risk among Islanders. The need for disaster risk reduction was much less priority among people and visually evident environmental issues were far more pressing. In every training and field activities, repeated emphasis was given to the links between environmental risks and disasters. This has contributed a lot, to change people’s perception with respect to environmental issues and it links to disaster risk reduction. Community members have taken the initiative to make their own solid waste management station by themselves, with internally generated funds.

Even the most stringent mitigation effort cannot avoid further impacts of climate change in the next few decades, which makes adaptation essential. Adaptation choices are further narrowed with each passing day and threaten to further entrench inequities at local, regional and global levels. There is a pressing need to protect communities at the edge, particularly coastal communities like Maldives

The risk is the combination of the probability of an event and its negative consequences.
For as well as being blessed with sun-kissed paradise islands and pale, white sands, this tourist haven is cursed with mounting evidence of an environmental catastrophe

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