Bhutan State of Environment Report: The Monthly Overview, March, 2014

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) signed a letter of agreement to start a program – called “Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas” – for improving rural livelihood in Bhutan. Read more in this March 2014 edition of the Monthly Overview on State of Environment, Bhutan.

ENVIRONMENT

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) signed a letter of agreement to start a program – called “Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas” – for improving rural livelihood in Bhutan.

LAND, AGRICULTURE, GRAZING LANDS AND ANIMAL CARE

Growing rice – the staple food of the Bhutanese – is becoming difficult, especially in places like Trashigang. Rural to urban migration has left no able-bodied people in the villages, which has triggered rise in the cost of labour, threatening the overall production of rice in the dzongkhag. Bhutan may be far from achieving food self-sufficiency, but it has today achieved 98 percent vegetable self-sufficiency.

MINING

Four mines in Gedaphu, near Jemina in Mewang Gewog, Thimphu are being investigated following complaints from villagers through Meet the People program to the Bhutan Prime Minister. Villagers complained that their drinking water was drying up, noise from one of the grinding units was disturbing and that their irrigation water has become sandy and bringing aggregates from mines in to their fields. The small community of Khariphu is divided and accusations are flying as the Khuenphen Norden mining in Bhutan, awaits their approval to renew the lease of mining marble and crystalline limestone above the chiwog.

DAMS

Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh  conveyed GOI’s approval of the draft Intergovernmental Agreement between Bhutan and India concerning the development of Joint Venture Hydropower Projects. India has approved the interim cost escalation for the Punatshangchu I hyrdopower project amounting to Rs. 1765 crores. India’s PSU hydropower companies are setting up projects entailing combined investments of Rs 20,000-25,000 crore in Bhutan.

FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS

The storm on March 21, 2014  damaged houses in Punakha of Bhutan. The windstorm affected about 56 households in Samdrupjongkhar of Bhutan.

WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION

Homes in Kengkhar and Jurmey gewogs under Mongar district of Bhutan, which rely on harvested rainwater were provided with filters as a household treatment system. Forty-three homes in Khengkhar and 113 homes in Jurmey received the filters. The water filters, public health officials said, was distributed through world health organisation’s (WHO) support to raise awareness on importance of clean drinking water. The distribution was done  in Jurmey on 22 March, the World Water Day.

HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS

Although the increase in multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) cases could partly be due to good diagnostic services, public health officials find the surge from two cases in January to 27 in December 2013 at Gidakom hospital in Bhutan alarming. Bhutan is now polio-free. The last case of clinically compatible polio was reported in 1986. Since then no polio cases were reported in Bhutan.

LIVING RESOURCES

Human-wildlife conflict issues in rural pockets continued in Bhutan.

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