…𝑰𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒚𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔, 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆𝒅 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒄𝒍𝒊𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒂 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒄𝒆𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒓𝒖𝒓𝒂𝒍 𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔
The residents of Tshaluna in Thimphu, primarily rely on livestock and agriculture for their livelihoods. Water plays a crucial role in sustaining life in this community. Unfortunately, the village, comprising more than 150 households in Mewang gewog, has been grappling with a water shortage over the past decade. The predicament has been exacerbated by the depletion of spring water, the main water source in the gewog. As a result, farmers in Tshaluna encounter growing difficulties each year in pursuing agricultural activities. The scarcity of water also poses a significant challenge to maintaining hygiene, particularly for women and children in the community.
As climate change intensifies, threatening spring water flows and placing rural communities in vulnerable situations, a collaborative initiative involving WWF-Bhutan, WWF-Germany, Tarayana Foundation, and the International Climate Initiative has been launched to secure and revive spring water sources in the region. This joint effort aims to enhance the resilience of communities like Tshaluna in the face of changing climate patterns.
The spring-shed management interventions in Tshaluna are anticipated to benefit more than 25 households in the future, providing a lifeline to a community that has been grappling with increasing challenges each year to sustain their agricultural practices. Women and children, in particular, have found maintaining hygiene to be a daunting task amid the water scarcity.
Ugyen Penjor, a resident of Tshaluna, expressed that the village once had an ample water supply. “In the past, we didn’t encounter water shortages. However, in recent years, we have been facing challenges. The changing climate poses a threat to water sources in rural areas like ours. It’s crucial that we implement effective measures to address this issue,” he remarked.
According to the WWF-Bhutan annual report for 2022-2023, the intervention in Tshaluna is a component of the broader project titled “Living Landscapes: Securing High Conservation Values in Southwestern Bhutan.” This project is supported through the International Climate Initiative. It utilizes nature-based solutions to conserve water sources and establishes water user groups, aiming to ensure sustained benefits for the community.
In response to the crisis, water reservoirs are being repaired, and distribution pipelines are being constructed to facilitate the effective supply of water in Tshaluna. A total of 27 Water User Groups have been formed to strengthen water management at the community level, aiming to benefit over 665 households and three schools, encompassing around 4,450 people living in the project landscape.
The overarching goal of the IKI Living Landscape project is to integrate the High Conservation Values (HCVs) approach into national land use zoning guidelines and policies across nine districts in southwestern Bhutan. The initiative also seeks to establish and manage at least nine High Conservation Value Areas (HCVAs), ensuring the long-term conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services beyond protected areas and biological corridors.