Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Safe shelter built in Muli

A safe shelter to protect against natural disasters such as tsunamis has been built in Muli island in Meemu Atoll, Maryam Omidi reports in Minivan News.

The shelter is a two-storey building with an open terrace. Each storey is around 174.5 sq metres in size.

It will house a 45,000 litre underground rainwater tank; a storehouse for food and life-saving drugs; an operations centre with communications equipment; and will be able to generate power for up to three days.

The building has been designed to allow for vertical evacuation which means people will be able to move upwards to a high central location in times of flooding.

The total cost of the shelter is US$333,498. Funds were provided primarily by the UAE Red Crescent (US$200,000) with the remainder from various sources.

Muli was identified as a vulnerable island in a “high tsunami hazard zone”, in need of measures to mitigate ecological disasters, according to Gemma Perez, disaster risk reduction project manager at UNDP.

The island was further selected to complement a UNDP community disaster preparedness programme, which included a disaster simulation drill in December 2006.

She added the UNDP was in favour of supporting the government’s proposal to develop a national early warning system.

In addition to assistance provided in 2006 to buy and install early warning equipment, the UNDP would help improve the National Meteorological Centre’s ability to “receive, monitor and analyse” relevant meteorological information.

Speaking at the ceremony, Abdullah Shahid, minister of state for housing, transport and environment, said that by mid-2010, in addition to safety equipment, the National Disaster Management Centre aims to link all islands through a communication system to be used during emergencies.

Kolhufushi in Meemu Atoll was one of the worst hit islands in the tsunami of December 2004. Following an internal dispute among the islanders, and the failure of the government to mediate a solution, the British Red Cross pulled out of the island in January 2007, halting the reconstruction process.

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