China's Tibetan glacial water aid helps the Maldives' water crisis

The Maldives is experiencing a water crisis as the sea level continues to rise and seep into its potable water reserve. As the Maldives and China become closer, the latter delivers 1,500 tonnes of water in order to alleviate the Maldives’ water crisis.

China's Tibetan glacial water aid helps the Maldives' water crisis
Kids in the Maldives, by Shaafi Ali


Dara Masita

Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

The climate change-induced rising sea level has threatened the Maldives' potable water supply. This low-lying nation is experiencing a water crisis as its groundwater reserves are no longer fit for consumption. Irregular rainfall and drought have exhausted the water sources, and the rising sea levels have allowed saltwater to seep in. The Maldives' only reliable source of potable water is from expensive desalination plants.

The Chairman of Tibet’s Autonomous Region, Yan Jinhai sent the 1,500 tonnes of bottled water to the Maldives after a visit to the island nation last November. The water comes from the glacial region of Tibet, which is rich in minerals. 

This aid can also be seen as an act of diplomacy as the Maldives is starting to lean more towards China rather than India because of newly elected pro-China President Muizzu. Acquiring the Maldives’ favour is beneficial as the archipelago is a strategic location for the East-West international shipping route. 

The human right to accessible and clean drinking water and sanitation is laid down in the 2010 UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/64/292) where 122 voted in favour, 41 abstentions, and none against. With the Maldives and China voting in favour. Clause 2 of the Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to assist developing nations in their access to clean water. This gesture from China shows that they are adhering to the request of the Resolution.

Overall, the consequences of climate change are harrowing for the Maldives, especially since access to clean water is an indispensible need. China, being closer to the Maldives now, has helped the island nation ease up a bit of its water crisis. This underscores the significance of international collaboration in adjusting to the impacts of climate change.

Sources and further reading:

FP Staff, ‘China's water diplomacy: Donates 1,500 tonnes of drinking water to Maldives’ (Firstpost, 2024) <> accessed 28 March 2024.

Navya Beri, ‘Climate change-threatened Maldives receives Tibetan glacier water from China’ (WION, 2024) <> accessed 28 March 2024. 

‘Now China donates 1,500 tonnes of Tibet glacial water to Maldives amidst water crisis’ (Economic Times, 2024) <> accessed 28 March 2024.

UN General Assembly, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 28 July 2010, 3 August 2010 A/RES/64/292