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Natural Disasters

Disaster Profile and Vulnerability Context of Maldives

Maldives is  a low lying island  nation  comprising  of over  thousand tiny  islands, out  of which 187 are administrative  islands, 109 are resort  islands   and 128 are Industrial islands. All islands are subjected  to physical  vulnerability due  to  the  country’s  extremely low elevation  and  the  flat  topography. The wide dispersal of its population of 3 hundred thousand, across the islands is also a significant contributing factor. The   frequency  of  natural disaster of  large  scale  is  relatively  low  in  Maldives. However, the  2004  Indian  ocean Tsunami brought  devastating  impact  to the  life  of its  people, economy  and  development  progress. The event  also brought  disaster  preparedness  to  the  forefront  of government  attention due  to  its  huge  impact   on  its population throughout  the  nation. Generally, the Maldives, regularly  get  affected by  high frequent, low  impact seasonal events such  as monsoonal flooding, coastal erosion, salt  water  intrusion and intense  sea  surges related  flooding  due to  sea  level  rise.


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Maldives  is  exposed  in  the  open  sea to Tsunamis  that may  develop in  the  active  Sumatra  fault. Therefore the  eastern sectors  of the northern and  central islands are highly exposed to tsunamis generated in the Indonesia Region. The northern islands have the  greatest exposure to surge hazards  and cyclones.Maldives experience thunderstorms, flash floods and  water shortage  during  the  dry North  east  Monsoon.

Over  the  next ten years,  there  is  an  estimated 10 percent probability  of a  storm  hitting the  northern  atolls with  wind  speed from 118 to 177km/h (category 1 and 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane  Scale). Due to low elevation,  Maldives is  most  vulnerable  to hydro-meteorological hazards. The  northern  island  are sometimes affected by weak  cyclones  that  form  in  the  southern part  of  Bay  of  Bengal. However,  cyclones  rarely  cross  directly  over the Maldives. Strong  winds, floods  due  to high  rainfall and  storm tides sometime cause damage to  property and  livelihoods. Lack  of  drainage  system  in almost  all islands exacerbate  damage. 

The  Maldives is  highly  exposed  to weather  and  oceanic  hazards. Most  islands  lack  coastal  protection  measures  or  windbreaks to  withstand  strong  wind  or  tidal  waves. The island communities  are therefore  extremely  vulnerable  to damages  related  to gusty  wind  and  flooding related  to tidal  waves. Vulnerability  is  intensified by  the  fact  that  many  islands have  settlements and  critical  infrastructure such  as schools, island  council,  power  plant health center etc. near  the  shoreline. Many of  these facilities  are on  the  coast.

Climate  change is a significant  and  an  apparent  issue for the  Maldives. The  maximum sea  level  rise of 59 centimeters  by 2100 predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on  Climate Change due  to  global warming is  expected to  make intense flooding  incident  more frequent and  coastal erosion  more  prevalent. According to  past  10  years  record, changes  in weather  patterns cause  yearly  shortages  of drinking  water in  almost  40  percent  of inhabited islands.

Due to the spread of the  islands  in a vast  ocean, its  logistically difficult  to provide emergency  assistance to  islands  affected  by  a  disaster  in a  timely  manner. Local  response  forces, with limited  resources, lack  in  their capacity to respond to  disasters. Therefore are only partly  functional. National Response  agencies  and  partner  organizations with  in  their  established coverage thorough out  the  nation  are  working  on establishing effective  local  response  to  disasters.






Maldives-Natural-Disaster-Profile-1978-2004.pdf | pdf | 44 KB | Last Changed: 18/05/2016 5:00am