The United Nations Development Program has awarded US$79, 862.95 to the 13 winners of the “Support to Civil Society Development” program in the Maldives.
The winning projects, supported by the Small Grants Facility and jointly funded by the UNDP and Australia Agency for International Development (AusAID), were designed by local CSOs and selected out of 54 proposed projects.
United Nations Resident Representative, Andrew Cox, spoke at the UN building today. Cox called civil society a “pillar of democracy”, and a significant factor in democratizing the Maldives. He commented on the large scale changes the country has faced in recent years, and called the Maldives “a country which shows much scope for growth and maturity.
This is the second round of projects in the program. Monitors of the first round had determined that the program was constructive, Cox said.
“Initiatives such as the Monitoring of Political Violence in the First Local Council Elections project, The Empowerment of Women project and The Right to Empower project – among the 09 projects funded in the first round, have indicated steps taken in the right direction by the civil society,” he said.
The second round of projects were selected from 11 atolls, including Raa, Baa, Noonu, Addu City, Malé City, and others. Almost every atoll in the country is represented in the selection.
Among the areas the program intends to address are human rights, governance, gender equality, and youth development. Cox added that the tenets of democracy, such as transparency, accountability, and the voice of the people will be empowered.
Cox backed the program by invoking the Maldives government’s Strategic Action Plan, “which guarantees that space will be allowed for individual freedoms and the civil society to thrive.”
In closing, Cox reminded his audience that significant challenges to establishing a full democracy remain in the Maldives, but that they can only be overcome by the united efforts of the people. Cox reinforced the UN’s committment to supporting the Maldivian people in their pursuit of a consolidated democratic identity.