Children learning about hygiene techniques in the Maldives


Where we have come from

In December 2005 Live and Learn started working in the Republic of the Maldives. Following the devastating tsunami on the 26 December 2004 the Asian Development Bank appointed Live & Learn to provide Technical Assistance (TA) to the Government of the Maldives for promoting Sound Environmental Management. The 12 month TA was focused around four outcomes: (i) Support actions towards sustainable water management, (ii) Build capacity for environmental assessment, (iii) Test and Promote Innovative Environment Education and Public Awareness and (iv) Organize for Community-Based Environmental Management. In the latter part of 2006 Live & Learn also commenced work on Phase I of a UNICEF funded ‘WASH’ project to develop environmental education materials to support the existing environmental studies curriculum in schools.

Live & Learn had an impressive first year in the Maldives. With input from International experts and the dedication of 2 local staff Live & Learn was able to deliver significant outputs. At the end of the 12 months Live & Learn had worked closely with 5 pilot communities over 20 visits, organized multiple workshops with stakeholders and subsequently produced a series of high quality documents, including: the Rapid Assessment of Perceptions on environmental issues faced by the communities, Toolkits in English and Dhivehi on Clean Communities, Beach Watch, and Water Quality, a guideline for EIA and Water Resource Management, a Guideline on Community Mobilization in the Maldives and a strategic directions paper on Environmental Education. Live & Learn prides itself on its knowledge-sharing and learning method and is in the process of distributing these documents as widely as possible to all interested parties. Before the end of the first year Live & Learn also worked with lecturers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia to develop a comprehensive primary school teachers' manual and toolkit which could be used by schools and environment clubs throughout the Maldives to support existing and new environmental activities.

During its first year Live & Learn staff was based wholly within the environment section of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water (MEEW). Throughout the 12 months an excellent relationship was established between the two organizations. Live & Learn also works very closely with the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture and has signed and MoU in 2010 with the Ministry to pursue livelihood activities in the communities in the North and one community in the South.

In late 2010 Live & Learn expanded its team of Environmental Education Specialists. The team is now comprised of 4 full time staff and 4 part time staff with extensive knowledge and experience in the education sector as well as in the Environment sector in the Maldives and established linkages with relevant stakeholders across the country. Live & Learn has a pool of trained facilitators across the country. Live & Learn continues to maintain a positive work environment and emphasizes knowledge-sharing with our stakeholders.

The challenge

The Maldives is a chain of 1,190 small low-lying coral islands grouped into 20 administrative atolls in the Indian Ocean: 198 islands are inhabited and 80 house tourist resorts. The islands are predominantly coastal entities and their ecosystems are among the most vulnerable in the world. The Maldives has a narrow economic base that relies on two critical sectors: tourism and fisheries. Most people are employed in these sectors; therefore, protecting the marine environment is crucial. Unique geography and vulnerability pose key development challenges for the country. The dispersion of the population across the archipelago raises the cost of delivering social services, as economies of scale are difficult to achieve in service provision. Furthermore, unsustainable practices from both tourism and fisheries increase the vulnerability of the fragile marine ecosystem.

Education for sustainable development is a new focus for education in the Maldives. In the Maldives a long-term environmental education strategy is required to achieve widespread understanding of the interdependence and fragility of ecological systems. Environmental education can lead to the adoption of new behaviors in the protection of the natural resources, essential for human development in the islands. However simply creating awareness of critical issues is insufficient to bring about change. Environmental Education must strongly promote the need for personal initiatives and social participation to achieve sustainability.

The objectives

Live and Learn’s key objectives in the Maldives are:

  • Promote Education for Sustainable Development to enhance quality of life.
  • Strengthen and support partners in the Environmental Education sector.
  • Improve networking and dialogue about Environmental Education in the Maldives.
  • Explore, share and implement community mobilization strategies for effective delivery of Environmental Education.
  • Maintain a well resourced, well governed and well managed organization.