The Seeds of Reform; the Evolution of the Alternative Care System in the Maldives

Justin Rogers, Mariya Ali



This  article  will  present  the  evolution  of  alternative  care  provision  in  the  Maldives. The Maldives is a small island nation located in the Indian Ocean, with a population of around 530,000. Since the signing and ratification of the UNCRC in  1991,  there  have  been  many  improvements  in  children’s  lives;  for  example,  progress has been made in school attendance, improved child literacy rates and infant mortality has been reduced significantly. However, the country still faces several  challenges  in  terms  of  child  welfare,  including  internal  child  trafficking,  child abuse, neglect and child marriage. There are currently 187 children living apart from their families in alternative care, which accounts for 0.02% of children in the country.

The predominant form of alternative care provision remains insti-tutional, which is typified by large numbers of children cared for by relatively low numbers of care staff.The article will explain, how historically, when a child was unable to remain with their parents, informal kinship care was the predominant form of provision. Often this  would  result  in  grandmothers,  aunts  and  the  wider  family/kinship  groups  looking after children. However, with the establishment of a large reformatory school Islaahiya in Male Atoll in 1979, residential care was created as an option for  boys  who  were  described  as  having  behavioural  issues.  

It  remained  a  key  alternative care provider in the country until it closed in 2013. In 2004, the state-run institution Kudakudhinge Hiya was established to care for 45 boys and girls from 0 to 9 years old. Then in 2016 with the support of the Qatar Foundation, the state built another institution Fiyavithi, which still cares for 80 children under 13 years of age