Haa Alif atoll Ihavandhoo Island Council has called for a communal prayer on Friday morning to pray for relief from drought.
Council President Mohamed Asif told Minivan News that islanders have run out of drinking water and are now relying on store bought desalinated water.
“It hasn’t rained on Ihavandhoo for about a year. Even during the recent rains, Ihavandhoo did not receive the blessing of rain,” he said.
The ‘Isthisqa’ prayer is to be held at the island’s football field.
According to Asif, the island’s groundwater is no longer potable due to the intrusion of saltwater and runoff from sewage.
Ihavandhoo, an island of 3000 people in the country’s northernmost atoll, has reported water shortages every dry season in recent years. Each household has a 2,500 liter tank for rainwater harvesting, but the tanks have run dry due to the prolonged dry season.
Fathimath Zahira, 46, said her three-person household ran out of water last week. She spends approximately MVR60 (US$ 4) on buying water from the store every day.
“God willing, I will go to the prayers,” she said.
Assistant Director at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Afsal Hussein, said water shortages are linked to climate change.
“Changes to global climate are causing shorter wet seasons and prolonging dry seasons,” he said.
The National Disaster Management Center has already transported 100 tonnes of water to the island in recent months. A new shipment is expected to arrive this week.
Water shortages are a recurring problem on several islands and the ministry is now working on a sustainable solution to the problem, Afsal said.
“Right to safe water is guaranteed by the constitution. The main concept we are using is called integrated water management which means managing all available sources of water – ground water, rain water and desalinated water – to solve water shortages,” he said.
Integrated water management includes recharging groundwater aquifers, increasing rainwater harvests and establishing desalination plants.
Ihavandhoo is one of the three islands were an integrated water management project is ongoing. Councillor Asif said the project will be completed at the end of the year and will provide relief from.
A pioneering project to desalinate water using excess heat from electricity generation was launched in Gulhi, Kaafu atoll, in February. The project, with the potential to produce 8000 litres of clean water per day, will be used in other islands should it prove successful in Gulhi.
Meanwhile, several islands in the Maldives have reported “black rain” showers in the Maldives.
The Public Health Unit (PHU) in early May warned Baa atoll Eydhafushi Island residents against drinking or cooking with black rain.
Similar incidents of black colored rain were reported in 2013 Haa Dhaal Atoll Nolhivaram Island and Haa Dhaal Atoll Kurimbi Island, and in Dhaalu atoll Meedhoo Island.
However, little seems to be known about the health implications of this occurrence. Islanders have speculated that the phenomenon maybe acid rain.