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A women’s group comes to the community’s aid

By Tandin Wangchuk

As part of their Small Grants program, Bhutan Foundation is supporting an enterprising women’s group in Chubjekha village in Paro to install rainwater harvesting system for ten households in the community.

The initiative is expected to meet part of their water needs to help the growth of agriculture in the locality.

According to the Foundation, Chubjekha village is one of the smallest communities in Paro with a population of about 200, and is one of the most water-stressed communities in the area with their primary source of water located about 6kms away.

While the community is largely supported by farming, without a reliable water supply, more than 30 acres of land are left fallow due to water scarcity.

Chubjakha Aumtshu Chithoen Tshogpa, a women’s group established in 2020, is working to help combat water scarcity and bring about meaningful changes in their community by adopting new techniques and innovative ideas.

Supported by GEF Small Grants Programme UNDP Bhutan, Bhutan Water Partnership and the Royal government of Bhutan, the roof top rain water harvesting technology will benefit around 10 households at Chubjakha Community.

Chubjakha village under Hungrel Gewog is one of the smallest villages under Paro Dzongkhag. The village is located at an altitude of 2,800 meters above the sea level and has a population of about 200people in 24 households.

Currently, there are about 10 households who live in the village while the rest of the households come there seasonally. Poor access to water, human wildlife conflict, poor access to market among others are some of the reasons why people do not live there regularly.

Earlier in July a similar program, attaining food self-sufficiency for women through Organic farming during COVID-19 situation in Chubjekha, was launched in the community.

It was expected that the initiative will focus on working towards attaining food self-sufficiency and improve livelihood of the community through organic farming, promotion of conducive organic agriculture practice, increase farm production through reduce depredation of crops by wildlife, establish rainwater harvesting and build the local capacity in organic farming and land management.

This project on ‘attaining food self-sufficiency for women through Organic farming during COVID-19 situation in Chubjekha’ is funded by GEF Small Grants ProgrammeUNDP Bhutan  implemented in partnership with Royal Government of Bhutan.

Chubjakha community owns a total of 50.922 acres of dryland, of which only 20.393 acres are currently under cultivation and more than 30 acres of land are left fallow due to multiple issues such as competition for water from the neighbouring villages, human wildlife conflicts and poor access to the farm products.

In the past farmers were heavily dependent on the orchard (apple) for their livelihood, however due to non-availability of water and pest infestation, the yield from the orchard has dropped drastically over the years, therefore community members are already reconsidering their dependence on orchard.

In June, the women group initiated a 5-kilometers electric fencing that will benefit all the 24 households in safeguarding their crops and orchards from wildlife attacks. With the installation the group said the community members will embrace 100% harvest of their farm produces.

All these activities in the community is being funded by GEF Small Grants Programme UNDP Bhutan and is  implemented in partnership with Royal Government of Bhutan and key stakeholders like Bhutan Foundation.

The initiative of Bhutan Foundation is part of their small grants’ program, and the Foundation also focuses in building Bhutanese professionals’ capacity while supporting the work of government and civil society partners among others.

According to the Foundation the Small Grants Program is a program that supports a diverse range of initiatives with a shorter timeframe and a smaller budget for immediate and emerging needs.

This program supports local projects to enhance the Foundation’s relationships with partners as well as ad-hoc programs of interest having limited time for fundraising. It also provides a platform to explore possibilities of venturing into new long-term core programs for the Foundation. Small Grants enable the Foundation to support programs beyond our core program areas.

Further, the Small Grants’ support enables the Foundation to support a greater number of programs with the funds available. The Foundation annually supports about three to four projects through this funding. The first small grant was launched in 2014.

Chubjakha Aumtshu Chithoen Tshogpa was founded in 2020 by a group of aspiring young women of the community. The nine-member group is managed by the community women.

The group is supported by GEF-Small Grants Programme UNDP Bhutan implemented in partnership with Royal Government of Bhutan, the group is currently working on a project ‘attaining food self-sufficiency for women through Organic farming during COVID-19 situation in Chubjekha.

The voluntary women’s group will also focus on working towards attaining food self-sufficiency and improve livelihood of the community through organic farming, increase farm production through reduce depredation of crops by wildlife, establish rain-water harvesting and build the local capacity in organic farming and land management as some of their mandates.

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