President Mohamed Waheed said his administration will pay “special attention” to small populations when addressing the needs of the people, according to the President’s Office.
Dr Waheed made the remarks on Friday while speaking to the inhabitants of Gaadhoo island in Laamu atoll. He expressed regret that a senior government official had not visited Gaadhoo for years, and said even if it was not possible for him personally to visit all the islands, he would try to send at least one of his ministers to each of the islands during this year.
“We must visit the islands and see for ourselves the well-being of our people. It is our duty to fulfill the needs of the people as much as possible,” Dr. Waheed observed.
According to 2006 census Gaadhoo has only 231 inhabitants. The island has access to primary education, a healthcare post and ferry connections to other islands of Laamu atoll.
Dr. Waheed meanwhile added that regardless of the size of the population, basic services must be provided to all citizens equally – however, acknowledged that “providing those services and improving the quality of services remained a challenge”.
The complex population distribution in Maldives has been identified as a great concern for the future of Maldives as it poses major challenges to the economic development.
The total population of nearly 350,000 is dispersed over 196 inhabited islands spread over a distance of more than 600 miles – making this one of the world’s most dispersed countries.
Around 130 islands have populations less than a 1000, and others between 1000-6000 while Male’ accounts for one third of the total population.