ADB's Work in Maldives
A revival in tourism and an impressive vaccination rollout for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that saw 88% of the eligible population fully vaccinated as of end 2021 enabled Maldives’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to rebound by an estimated 31.6% in 2021. This was a notable turnaround after the pandemic shut down the tourism industry in 2020, causing the economy to contract by 33.5%, the country’s deepest recession on record. Maldives’s annual GDP growth averaged 5.7% from 2010 to 2019.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is one of the country’s biggest development partners, providing support averaging $40 million a year from 2016 to 2020. ADB’s support is aligned with the Government of Maldives’s Strategic Action Plan, 2019–2023.
To date, ADB has committed 107 public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance totaling $432.3 million to Maldives. Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Maldives amount to $267.5 million. These were financed by regular and concessional ordinary capital resources, the Asian Development Fund, and other special funds. ADB’s ongoing sovereign portfolio in Maldives includes 3 loans and 8 grants worth $176.1 million.
As an atoll nation dispersed across 188 inhabited islands, Maldives faces extraordinary challenges in delivering reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy to its people. With several islands electrified by diesel-powered grid systems, Maldives spends a lot annually on oil imports for electricity generation. In response, ADB provided an energy project in the outer islands to replace diesel power generation grids with solar power in 160 islands and Greater Malé. This project will help reduce about 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2045. ADB will also help with another renewable energy project to install 25 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems in 16 islands. Private sector investments will be mobilized for this project.
ADB is supporting the development of a sustainable and climate-resilient solid waste management system for Greater Malé and 32 surrounding islands through a combined $106.3 million grants and loans assistance across two projects. The projects are (i) establishing a modern waste collection, transfer, treatment (through waste-to-energy) and disposal system in the project area; (ii) building institutional capacity for sustainable services delivery; and (iii) raising public awareness in reduce, reuse, recycle behaviors. In 2021, the government, with ADB’s support, managed to stop open fires and smoke from the Thilafushi dumpsite, which are ongoing for more than 20 years and creating an unhealthy environment for people in nearby islands (including Malé) and resorts.
Nonsovereign operations. Total outstanding balances and undisbursed commitments of ADB’s nonsovereign transactions in Maldives as of 31 December 2021 was $3.87 million representing 0.03% of ADB’s total private sector portfolio.
Operational challenges. The inherent structural constraints facing this small island developing economy remain a challenge. Maldives has a narrow economic base that relies heavily on tourism and fisheries and its economy is extremely vulnerable to external shocks. To promote more sustainable growth, ADB’s support will also focus on diversifying the economy through technical assistance to assess the potential of other sectors besides tourism, for example fisheries, agriculture, and information and communication technology. The country’s persistently high levels of public debt and fiscal deficits are another challenge. To improve fiscal sustainability, ADB is providing support for revenue mobilization and building the institutional and technical capacities of the Ministry of Finance and the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority. It included a $1.2 million technical assistance for enhancing debt sustainability, committed in December 2021.
ADB’s recent engagement with Maldives focused on COVID-19 response measures. This is in addition to its long-standing support for climate-change solutions. In 2020, Maldives availed itself of an initial $500,000 grant and an additional $1 million grant from ADB to procure emergency medical supplies. ADB also provided a $50 million assistance to mitigate health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 by increasing testing capacity and facilities; providing working capital to 2,200 self-employed individuals and businesses; and giving cash assistance to 150,000 beneficiaries. To strengthen Maldives’s health system, ADB committed a $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction in November 2021 to support long-term pandemic responses and expand vaccination coverage.
The Climate Risk Country Profile: Maldives, jointly published in 2021 with the World Bank, provides a comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts. A reference source for integrating climate resilience into development planning and policy making, it highlights how climate change is a major threat to the lives and livelihoods in Maldives and that without careful management, it is likely to affect the poor and marginalized, and those living in remote communities.
ADB’s 2020 publication, 100 Climate Actions from Cities in Asia and the Pacific, has case studies on Maldives gearing up for large-scale renewable energy production under the outer islands energy project, and the sustainable waste management project on Thilafushi island.
Shareholding and Voting Power
Number of Shares Held
426 (0.004% of total shares)
39,540 (0.297% of total membership, 0.457% of total regional membership)
*Overall capital subscription
*Paid-in capital subscription
* United States dollar figures are valued at rate as of 31 December 2021.
ADB Governor: Ibrahim Ameer
ADB Alternate Governor: Mariyam Manarath Muneer
ADB Director: Noor Ahmed (Pakistan)
ADB Alternate Director: Paul Dominguez (Philippines)