Hanifaru clean-up completed in Baa Atoll biosphere reserve

A clean up project took place yesterday (May 10) in the Maldvies Baa Atoll – the Maldives’ first certified UNESCO biosphere reserve.

The clean up of Hanifaru Island and Hanifu reef maintenance was carried out by a large group of volunteers from within the reserve – including local councillors, police officers, and resort workers.

Baa Atoll was officially launched as a Biosphere Reserve in June 2012 by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Obtaining the status of UNESCO biosphere resulted in significnant funding for the atoll, with the UNDP handing over a cheque for US$250,000 as a contribution to the fund at the opening ceremony.

Tourist resorts in Baa Atoll, including Soneva Fushi, Coco Palm, Four Seasons, and Anantara and several other resorts have also pledged donations.

The Baa Atoll Conservation Fund will be used to finance projects to conserve the environment in the atoll as well to support livelihood activities.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) coordinates a world network of over 500 biospheres, which are designated as areas of conservation and innovative sustainable development.

In a recent statement from the Biosphere Reserve Office, the organisers extended their gratitude to everyone who helped with the clean up, assuring that together they can achieve the common goal of managing the reserve.

Participants in the cleanup of Hanifaru included those from the atoll council, Eydhafushi Island Council, Baa Atoll Education Centre, the Maldives Police Services, and Baa Atoll Hospital. The Hanifaru reef cleanup and maintenance was undertaken by Four Seasons, Seamarc, Reathbeach Resort, Dusit Thani, Seasplash, and Kihaad Maldives.


Foreign reserve US$250 million on Gayoom’s departure, Mundhu tells Asian Tribune

Spokesperson for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Hussein ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, has been quoted in the Asian Tribune as saying that the Maldives had a foreign reserve of US$250 million when the former President left office.

“When the IMF recommended cutting down on public servants, President Nasheed went ahead with slashing the number of civil servants. At the same time Nasheed continued appointing endless political appointees and state ministers. If Nasheed thinks it will be all hunky dory in three months time just because he implemented a managed float of the rufiyaa, he is mistaken. He does not understand the dynamics of economics,” Mundhu told journalist Poorna Rodrigoo.

He blamed the dollar shortage on “businessmen holding large amounts of money abroad”, and noted that the economic uncertainty had led to “many Sri Lankan businessmen having second thoughts over investing here and Lanka appears a better investment than the Maldives for foreign investors.”

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ilyas Labeeb, on parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, meanwhile recently contested that figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) showed that US$104.6 million was transferred out of the Maldives in 2008, the year of the election, compared to US$30-40 million in 2005-2007.

“Most dollar transfers made overseas was done during the period between October-November 2008. It was between the time that [Gayoom] faced defeat in the presidential election and the time that President Nasheed took the oath of office,” Ilyas said at an MDP rally earlier this month, according to newspaper Haveeru.

Opposition split

Speaking on the internal split currently troubling the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Mundhu said that while leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali retained “legal authority”, Gayoom, the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’, still retained the party’s “moral authority” and majority support.

“Of the DRP’s 32 member council, Thasmeen has the support of 18 members and he controls party’s disciplinary arm too. So there is no doubt that as the leader he has the party’s legal authority. But it is former Leader Gayoom who commands the moral authority of the party and the majority support of nearly 46,000 party membership. If one happen to see the number of supporters attending Thasmeen’s rallies and Gayoom’s rallies, it is easy to assess who has the greater support,” Mundhu was reported as saying.

“Above all, Thasmeen is presently in a financial crisis personally and that has made matters worse for him. As of now we will stay in the party and will do our best to change the leadership.”

The Gayoom faction is pinning much hope on the 2012 congress to change the party charter and hold primaries to elect a new presidential candidate.

On whether Gayoom’s faction in the DRP would create a new party, Mundhu said: “We worked hard and formed the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party. It has taken lot of our time and energy. We gave our lives to the party. We are the real DRP. We do not want to let go of it. Why should we leave the DRP. Also it is a administratively a nightmare to form a new party in the Maldives given the fact that it involves lot of traveling to each and every island. It is a landlocked country and we do not have resources to do that.”

Read the full interview