Project Introduction

Since the 1970’s, the local crafts industry has faced continuous decline with the mechanisation of fishing boats and the emergence of tourism, which brought with it alternative employment opportunities. Today, local crafts are confined of vendibility in a tourism market which is increasingly being flooded with imported souvenirs and crafts from East Asia . This limited access to authentic Maldivian handicrafts in the tourism market results from lack of transport and marketing networks, high costs of production due to traditional techniques and the non-existence of a regulatory policy framework to protect the industry from competition abroad.

In response to the December 2004 tsunami, UNDP supported several handicrafts development activities, aimed at providing the island communities a means to recover the economic losses incurred. The initiative focused primarily on the promotion of sustainable income generation by engaing in partnership with the tourism industry. This partnership opened up avenues; for the launch of a handicrafts pilot project in Lhaviyani Atoll, opportunities for handicrafts training, and replacement of tools used for handicrafts making that were damaged or lost to the tsunami in Dhaalu, Thaa and Laamu Atoll.

It became evident through this support that local handicraft making is an important link that can foster partnership between island communities and the tourism sector. It further shows potential as a sustainable source of revenue for Maldivian island communities. UNDP has therefore committed, through its new Country Programme 2008-2010, to continue to support communities in the revival of handicrafts making as a livelihood activity. Areas of support will include;

  • Expansion of production outlets with modern facilities – mainly machinery and tools to improve scale and cost effectiveness of handicrafts making.
  • Conduction of technical training programmes using modern techniques of handicraft making in jewellery making, wood turning, pyrography and lacquer work.
  • Formulation of a marketing strategy, based on a market study compiled in early 2008, and execution of a marketing campaign to promote authentic Maldivian handicrafts within the Maldives tourism industry.
  • Development of a national regulatory framework for the protection of the local handicrafts industry, in close coordination with the Government of Maldives.

UNDP Supported Handicraft Production Outlets

Lhaviyani Atoll Handicrafts Training Centre
Located in Lhaviyani Atoll Naifaru, the centre is the main production outlet in the atoll. The centre has been installed with tools and machinery and to date has been the host of two training programmes on handicrafts conducted for the atoll. It is managed by a local NGO, Ifthithaahu Isdharivarunge Jamiyyaa – the Students’ Alumni Association of the island school ‘Madhrasathul Ifthithaah’.

Kurendhoo SKYS Handicrafts Centre
Located in Kurendhoo in Lhaviyani Atoll,  the centre is operated by a  local organization - Society for Kurendhoo Youth & Sports (SKYS). The centre has successfully concluded a training programme on lacquer making and producers include trainees of Lhaviyani Atoll Handicrafts Trainers Centre.

Hinnavaru Production Centre
Hinnavaru Island Women’s Development Committee (IWDC) is actively supporting handicraft trainees in continuing production at the committee’s Women’s Fortune Centre, which houses sewing and embroidery machines that are leased to women on the island. Most of the producers at the centre are young school leavers.

Kudahuvadhoo Production Centre
Following a training programme held in August 2008 on lacquer work, machines are operated and managed at the youth centre by the Kudahuvadhoo Youth Association - an NGO on the island.

Thaa Hirilandhoo Production Centre
Hirilandhoo Zuvaanunge Jamiyyaa, a local NGO has been active in conducting handicrafts training for youth on the island since 2007. They operate their machines in a small workshop on the island.

Laamu Gan Production Centre
Laamu Gan Thundi Ward Island Women’s Development Committee (IWDC) has conducted a handicrafts training on the island and continues to support handicrafts production by the trainees.

Laamu Fonadhoo Production Centre
Following a training programme conducted on the island in 2007, the NGO Women Enhancement, has been involved in promoting local handicrafts making on the island for young people.

About the Maldives

Consisting of 1190 islands grouped into 20 natural atolls, the Republic of Maldives is a holidaymaker's dream. The islands are a pleasure to behold – from the air, up close and even under water. The lush tropical foliage, white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and deep blue ocean is sure to entrance every traveller, adventurer and holiday seeker. Having carved a place in the hearts of visitors long before tourism, Marco Polo called the Maldives 'flowers of the Indies' – many view its exquisite beauty as befitting a wonder of the world.

The atolls and islands are scattered over an area of 90,000 sq. km in the Indian Ocean, straddling the equator between latitudes 7° 6" North and 0° 42" South and longitudes 72° 32" and 73° 46" East.

Visit the official Maldives Tourism website for more.

Lhaviyani Atoll Map

Dhaalu Atoll Map

Thaa Atoll Map

Laamu Atoll Map