The government's recently launched regionalization/decentralization initiative could very well be the very last chance to reorganize the atoll population. You don't need to be a sorcerer to divine this. If the present demographic trends continue, soon there will be no atoll population left to reorganize. Between 2000 and 2006 an estimated 22,452 people migrated from the islands to Male. At this rate itself, another 50,000 would migrate by the year 2020.
The above is actually the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, as island populations decrease below a certain critical level, there would be a mass exodus from the atolls. Past experience shows that the critical level could be about 250 inhabitants, at which point basic services become near impossible even with subsidization. Cases in point are Maavaidhoo and Faridhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll and Dhiyadhoo in Gaafu Alifu Atoll. Inhabitants of these islands have been desperately petitioning the government for relocation.
In Census 2000, there were only 17 islands with population below 250. But by 2006 there were 30 such islands, indicating the rapid decline in island population. These 30 will soon be on the queue for relocation. Even large islands are not immune from population decline. In 2000 there were 17 islands with population over 4000. However by 2006 the number of such high-population islands had declined to just 9.
Analysis of inter census population changes from 2000 to 2006 shows a clear trend of in-migration towards Male. As depicted in the bar chart above, the population of Male in 2000 (blue) was 74,069. Assuming a uniform rate of natural population growth of 1.7% per annum for the whole country, Male should have had a population of 81,951 (red) by 2006. But the actual Census figure of 2006 was 104,403 (green). This is an increase of 22,452 over the estimated figure. In contrast the atoll population was 196,032 in 2000 (blue). This figure should have increased to 216,891 by 2006 (red). But actually there was a decline to 194,439 (green). This figure falls short of the estimated figure by 22,452, which is a fairly good estimate of the in-migration towards Male.
Only time will be able to tell whether the new government's regionalization strategy will succeed in reversing the tide of in-migration. For now the race is too close to call.