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Clean-up and sustainable waste management program complete, Australian Red Cross closes Male office

Tuesday July 10, 2007

Approximately a third of the Maldives' population of 300,000 were severely affected by the tsunami, which left scores of people dead and displaced over 20,000.

Australian Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross have completed an AUD$9.5 million clean-up and sustainable waste management program in the Maldives.

The handover of this program to communities and the Ministry of Environment Energy and Water in July 2007 saw the completion of activities implemented directly by Australian Red Cross in the Maldives.

The clean up program has benefited almost 100,000 people, removing the equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks of tsunami debris and creating long-term environmental solutions for waste management on 74 islands.

Michael Legge, Vice-Chairman of the Australian Red Cross Board spoke at a ceremony marking the closure of the office. 'For the people of the Maldives the completion of the project is merely the end of one chapter in a much longer story. While the labour of Red Cross and its contractors is finished, the torch will be passed to passionate and well prepared communities, who stand ready to keep their islands healthy and clean,' he said.

In addition to the removal of debris, thousands of people have been educated and trained in sustainable waste management, including almost 1,500 island representatives and more than 2,000 students.

Francois Couillard, Deputy Secretary-General of operations representing Canadian Red Cross at the occasion, said 'This handover signifies that the work of Red Cross and its contractors is completed and communities will be the ones to maintain the momentum to keep the islands healthy and clean.'

Despite the completion of the clean-up and sustainable waste management program and the subsequent closure of the Australian Red Cross Maldives office, Australian Red Cross continues to support two tsunami recovery programs managed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Maldives.

These are support for the construction of supplementary water supply systems through the Maldives, and support for the Federation's largest single relocation and construction project in the world. Australian Red Cross is building 25 houses and installing a solar power system as part of the construction of 600 houses and all related community infrastructure on Dhuvaafaru Island.