Letter on the housing crisis

Dear Editor,

Suppose a woman who is working has to resign from her job for the caring and upbringing of her very young child, she cannot do it because if she resigns from the job, her family cannot afford to continue paying the monthly rent and the family shall go back to the miserable conditions that they were suffering in for ages, or even worse than that.

Here I am talking about the families who are being provided with the basic housing under an affordable housing scheme by Hulhumale’ Development Corporation (HDC). The reason why people have accepted these pigeon-hole like housing is because they had no place to live. This housing is called Row Houses by HDC.

We hear from the NSPA that families who face such difficulties shall apply for a subsidy but there is no such mechanism. For example, if one applies for a subsidy due to the above reason, this working woman must resign from her job first and then apply for a subsidy which is really a very big risk for them, and may be forced to migrate to a neighboring country where their income is enough to live and support the family.

When the number of families who are leaving behind their beloved and beautiful Maldives are at alarmingly high increase due to such unavoidable reasons, the authorities responsible usually mention that it’s because people have lot of money and that they are living abroad.

I think a responsible authority must think on the real issues before commenting blindly. Because, people are really suffering. This is not something we can hide. Maybe NSPA, HDC or the Human Rights Commission do not get many such complaints from the people but this issue is talked and discussed by the people every day and several times a day. I think people are not interested in complaining on such issues because people know very clearly the answer that they shall get and nothing would change. People do not like to go and talk to those who are at the service counters because we all have bad experiences taking about such issues.

So, I hereby request the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) and the country’s basic housing providers to please think on this critical issue before a large number of people die without enjoying their right to live in their beloved country.


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12 thoughts on “Letter on the housing crisis”

  1. Dear Saeed,

    We wanted to live in Maldives, no, we WANT to live in Maldives my self my Wife and kids but we cannot because my Wife's house had been divided and we are just too stuck with other things to pay to build it up and too expensive. We live in Australia, but we both much prefer Maldives but can't live there. (It may sound odd seems everyone seems to hate Male' but I actually love it heaps!)
    You know, my wife worked for Society for Health Education and someone high up said to her they were going to use some flats in Hullumale' for single mothers (may have even been Madame Nasreena who said it but don't quote me I may be wrong but someone high up said it...) (a little like in Australia there is Homesewest public housing for very poor ppl)

    Did such a thing ever eventuate? Obviously not!

  2. maldives does not offer life above sea-level. if you want to live in maldives you need gills.

  3. There is no housing crisis at the fundametal level. The crisis that you see in Male' region is a manifestation of a crisis in services to outer islands. The reasons island people come to male are 1) education for children 2) health services 3) jobs and economic opportunity.

    Given that government (current, previous and other past governments) has taken the responsibility for providing education and health, it is apparent that the real crisis is the inability to provide these services to outer islands.

    Not only that, Male' suprimacists do not really want the islands to be developed/self sufficient/ or have any notion of self-determination. This is reflected in the policies that male based central government has followed for decades (i am not pointing finger at gayyoom only, this includes nasir as well).

    The island people have been denied the opportunity to use the resources available to them (which is not much really) to their benefit. This is reflected in agricultural/fisheries/tourism/customs policies.

    Just to give some specific examples:

    1. The people of thinadhoo were quite well off in the early nasir era. they had couple of their own shipping lines to import stuff. They did not have to go thru male'. But some male' suprimacist thought otherwise, and forced them to run their ships through male', making things expensive, and inconvenient, and at the mercy of male' bosses. Their self determination was ruined. No wonder they revolted against nasir.

    2. The uninhabited islands have been semi-titled to male' people (though not always) under the name of 'varuvaa' system. This deprived the real farmers in islands of opportunity. Instead what should have happend is the lands from agricultural islands should be titled to the actual farmers in islands under tax free and long term basis. Even the ones who got islands under varuvaa didnt have secure property rights. there was no legal contract and the island was always subject to be taken by government if and when required. This reduced investments from these people because they were not sure of the lease. Only people who actualy invested in agriculture were people who had good connections within the governments (who then knew that their varuvaa island will not be taken away).

    3. The tourism 'Master Plan' is a real plan to cartel-ize the whole tourism sector. It enables only high end tourism to be viable, making those with lots of money only able to compete. Instead, atoll people should have opportunity to do low to medium end tourism. That decision does not have to come from central government in Male' only now. If more people were given the opportunity, that would have already begun in Maldives.

    4. The lucrative business of tuna export has been made an oligopoly. This has caused numerous difficulties for fishermen. I have written about this couple of times:


    With all these restrictions and monopoly previleges to selected few, it is no wonder that island people suffered terribly, and they have to depend on Male' for every single thing.
    This has created such a high demand for apartments in male', and hence the rising rents. The wages have not kept up with rising living costs.

    So the housing crisis is not the real crisis. The real crises are the failed policies that have been pursued for so long.

  4. Hello

    I fully agree to what MeeKaku says. This is the cause to this type of situation not only in the Maldives but in other poor states. Take for example Sri Lanka, Colombo is overcrowded. Only a few Provinces are developed.This is due to the arrogance and ignorance of past and present Governments. But this could also be intentionally done so as to control the country and its citizens. I would say this kind of management would be ideal for Dictators. And Maldives has seen some of them as well as Sri Lanka.
    Its a lot like what the Americans did to aal those slaves who were shipped across from Africa. Keep the ignorant and poor and then they our our Puppets.
    I am told that Maldives has become even worse since the change of government. I was then so happy and thought at last the normal Maldivian is goin' to see some "light" but it looks like they will be seeing darkness, something they are more familiar. I feel damn sorry for this beautiful Island. The present President needs to open his eyes and make sure he delivers what he criticized all his life about the Gayoom regime.



  5. What is the average wage for an ordinary worker around Male,,and then can you tell me what are the average rents for apartments in Male?

  6. Larry,

    The average total income of a worker is like RF5000 - 6000 and the cheapest apartment rent is like RF8000 - 9000 plus expensive electricity & water (the more you utilize the more your charge rate increases)

    Education is free but schools are always trying to promote standard of the students who are good so that schools shall get a good name at the end.........students who really need help from the teachers to sustain in the required standard have No Chance and that relevant parents go door to door looking for a Tuition provider...my God, so expensive, RF1000 - 1500 per subject.

    Medical is Free and even for a slightest treatment people have to fly to India or Srilanka because people have bad experiences of the available service....since the country is small in size, almost every bitter experience and incident information is spread throughout the country so quickly

    Women are encouraged to take part in the country's development but not a single Day Care Center is available resulting every working woman has to recruit an expatriate for babysitting. Does it sense???? Economy weakening? Social fabric strengthening? Can expatriate babysitters bring up responsible & healthy citizens like the mothers or experienced and trained babysitters that we find other countries???

  7. Government has given 21 million USDollars to Reeko Moosa for land reclamation in Thilafushi when we have unused land all over the country including Hulhumale, Gulheefalhu and the atolls. Why reclaim more land when what we need is construction of flats.

  8. I can certainly see your problem--do you not have social services[government help]towards rent/unemployment benefit etc..Most of the modern world have a system to help the poor...Regards the wages RF5000,,is that per month? at RF20 to the £ it doesn't leave anything for extras..I really thought that your new president was a man of the people and for the people,,somehow you Maldivians are going to demand that money be spent on housing/social issues,instead of holiday resorts,after all Ismail has just said the government has given $21million for land reclamation--how many accomadation units could have been built for that?? First things first,,you will need to get your priorties right,,get your workforce and their families settled into affordable homes then a nice steady expansion..I wish you luck,I think you will need it...Larry

  9. Laerry,

    We do have an agency called National Social Protection Agency (NSPA)that helps housing of the families who are having a disabled children but not those who don't such children


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