Maalhos Becomes the First Maldivian Island to Stop Open Burning and the First Eco-Centro Complex Outside of Soneva Fushi
February 5, 2020, saw the official launch of the pioneering Namoona Baa initiative with the unveiling of a new ‘eco-centro’ complex on the island of Maalhos, Maldives. As part of the initiative, the islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo in the Baa Atoll pledged to end the open burning of island waste, in a radical shift towards eco-friendly waste management. The pledge was made by the Presidents of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo island councils during a workshop on waste held at Soneva Fushi on January 5-8, 2019.
The eco-centro model was pioneered at Soneva Fushi, which is located close to Maalhos. At the resort, food and organic waste, metals and bottles are chipped, ground down or composted, and turned into things of economic value, such as concrete building blocks and fertiliser. Plastic waste is either recycled or used to create useful new objects. Each island has pledged to create an ‘eco-centro’ waste-to-wealth centre that will sort, recycle and reuse island waste, essentially ending the open burning of waste, which poses a health and environmental hazard and damages tourism.
Soneva has earmarked funds from the Soneva Save our Seas programme to support the creation of the eco-centros on Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo. The new partnership includes the islands, Soneva Fushi and Common Seas, an international NGO dedicated to reducing marine plastic pollution. Part of the international Clean Blue Alliance (which supports islands in preventing plastic waste leaking into the ocean), it sets a sustainable course for Baa Atoll, and eventually the entire Maldives archipelago, to become a global leader in halting ocean plastic pollution.
To mark the launch of Namoona Baa and the inauguration of the Maalhos eco-centro, there was a friendly cricket match on the island, featuring Maldivian Parliament Speaker, President Mohamed Nasheed, former Indian international cricketer Harbhajan Singh and a number of Maldivian cabinet ministers and officials. The match helped showcase a new recreational area created by Namoona Baa on the island, which had previously been the site of a rubbish dump.