Maldives: Coastal flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 3

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 29 May 2007
This situation report is based on information received from the Maldives' National Disaster Management Center, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, as well as from the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok.

SITUATION

1. On 15-17 May 2007, a series of swells, between 10 - 15 feet, hit an estimated 68 islands in 16 Atolls across the Maldives, causing the inundation of up to 600 metres from the coastline. The most affected Maldive atolls were Gaafu Dhaalu, Dhaalu, Thaa and Laamu, which include over 24 islands. These high tides occur annually, but not to this magnitude. The situation has returned to normal for the majority of the high tide affected islands in the Maldives. Minor recovery work on the four most affected atolls is on-going.

2. There were no human fatalities from the coastal flooding. As a result of the flooding, 1649 people were evacuated from their homes. The recent NDMC report indicates 886 people have returned to their respective homes, while the remaining 763 continue to live with host families awaiting the repair of their homes.

3. Housing: A total of 579 housing units were damaged by the high tide floods.

4. Livelihood: 33 islands were affected by salt water intrusions that caused significant damage to crops, agriculture farms, home gardens and vegetation, which most people depend upon for livelihood and food supplies. Immediate restoration of livelihood is necessary to enable affected families to recover.

5. Infrastructure: the wave surges also caused minor damage to harbours and jetties in 17 islands.

6. Environment: A total of 58 out of the 68 islands inundated have reported to have significant area of the coastlines eroded. The extent of erosion of coastlines and beaches is another area which needs focus. This poses further threat to the coastal environment in the long-term. A comprehensive assessment of the impact to the natural environment of these islands would be required to ascertain the extent of damage and design corresponding mitigation measures to avert future disasters.

II. NATIONAL RESPONSE

7. The National Government of the Maldives, Atoll Office and neighbouring island communities provided emergency relief assistance to five islands in Gaafu Dhaalu. However, the people expressed both immediate and longer-term needs which when addressed would assist in the efficient recovery from the disaster.

Immediate needs identified include:

a. Additional water tanks to augment the jerry cans they currently used to fetch water from the mobile water desalination plant. Most people from the islands affected used well water for cooking and washing. Since the groundwater source is contaminated, water supply is insufficient and still remains a challenge;

b. Clean-up assistance;

c. Kitchen and other essential utensils;

d. Installation of mobile Reverse Osmosis (RO) units on seven islands, three atolls;

e. Restoration of basic livelihoods.

Other long term needs identified are:

f. Repair of harbour and jetties;

g. Re-build collapsed boundary walls;

h. Construction of sea walls to mitigate future occurrence of similar events;

i. A comprehensive assessment of the impact on the coastal environment.

III. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

8. The Government of the United States of America provided assistance of USD 100,000 channelled through UNICEF, in response to the international appeal made by the Government of Maldives to assist in the early recovery efforts.

Map: Maldives: Floods - Location Map

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje, Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66-2288-2572, Fax: +66-2288-1043, Mob. + 66-8-1916-1271
e-mail: gengaje@un.org

Desk Officers:
(NY) Mr. Wojtek Wilk, Tel. +1-917 367 9748, e-mail: wilkw@un.org
(GVA) Mr. Guadelupe deSousa, Tel. +41-22-917 4339

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917 367 5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917 2653

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.