For the Maldives, housing is a unique issue of importance. It is one of the rights identified in the constitution, that the Government is mandated to provide for all citizens without prejudice. Thus, my delegation appreciates the work of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and welcomes his report.
Traditionally, housing in the Maldives was largely a private affair, with families constructing homes on inherited land or lands allocated to them by the Government. The subdividing of inherited land or sharing of existing parcels of land subsequently led to unhealthy conditions such as housing congestion, substandard housing, as well as multiple family housing. Given the geographical topography of the Maldives, land is scarce; and construction materials and the transporting of these materials is an expensive affair. In the capital Male’, prices of housing can go as high as 12 times the average annual
Social housing was introduced in the 1990s and it remained a key priority for the governments henceforth. The Government between 1990-2010 provided 1057 housing units. 1000 units were completed in 2012. There are more than 3500 units under construction in Male’ and in the islands.
The Government has also worked on ensuring safety nets for vulnerable sectors of the population adopting a human rights perspective, to promote home ownership and to deliver affordable, quality, adequate housing with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as poor, women and single-headed households, marginalized by their socio-economic and historic circumstances. Priority is given in allocation, to families and people with disabilities. Social housing units are sold for a heavily subsidized rate spread across a long period to keep rents low. Each unit is tiled and with electricity and water connections provided. The housing scheme is based on assessments of the situation and through a transparent and accountable process.
The Government of the Maldives also works with private sector to develop the private housing market. In this regard, the government facilitates financing for private parties that are engaged in the construction business, works to lower the cost of construction materials through diversification of imports and on improving the conditions of private rentals through the necessary legal mechanisms. The government also works with private parties where government gives land to private parties to build holiday homes in exchange for them building social housing units.
As a small country, as a country that is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and extreme weather events, as a country that is hoping to deliver top quality services to its entire population with the limited resources at its disposal, housing is an important issue for the Maldives. Therefore, the Maldives is highly supportive of the Special Rapporteur’s work and ensure our full cooperation to her important mandate. Since her last visit in 2009, the housing situation has changed considerably and thus, in our standing invitation to all human rights mandate holders, the Maldives would be pleased to invite Special Rapporteur Ms. Raquel Rolnikback to the country and provide her insights and recommendations in our efforts to improve this important aspect of human rights for the Maldivian society.