…𝒃𝒚 2023, 𝑩𝒉𝒖𝒕𝒂𝒏’𝒔 𝒗𝒖𝒍𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒐𝒎𝒚 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒍𝒊𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒖𝒄𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒊𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒔.
In 2022, the United Nations’ Country’s Team (UNCT) supported the Royal Government in improving the economic conditions of the country as well as resilience amidst the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To improve economic conditions as well as resilience amidst the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, United Nation (UN) in Bhutan helped the agriculture sector in Bhutan to become more resilient to climate-induced shocks through the adoption and scaling up of climate-resilient farming infrastructure and technologies, food systems and sustainable natural resource management.
Through various initiatives, approximately 182,636 (91,318 females) individuals in farming have been made more resilient to climate-induced shocks through the adoption and scaling up of climate resilient farming infrastructure and technologies, food systems and sustainable natural resource management.
As per the UN country Annual result report 2022, the sustainable management of natural resources, approximately 943 hectares of forest area were brought under participatory and sustainable management, with risk-informed and climate resilient technologies, benefiting 139,000 people (69,500 females).
This included sustainable management of natural resources through 28 local forest-management plans, resulting in the maintenance of 422,169 hectares of forest area in Bhutan (a natural carbon sink, which contributes to the country’s effort to maintain its constitutional obligation of 60 per cent forest coverage).
It was also mentioned in the report that the UNCT also supported efforts to climate-proof 26 kilometers of irrigation channels, 246 kilometers of farm and Gewog connectivity roads, benefiting 42,730 people (20,510 females), providing assured access to irrigation water in both summer and winter and supporting crop diversification, leading to increased income opportunities. These efforts were complemented by the provision of other crop management technologies, prompting crop- and income-diversification initiatives.
This, in turn, has helped in the agriculture stimulus plan, increasing production with lean-season vegetables. While enhancing water conveyance efficiency, high density piped irrigation has led to the reduction of landslides and to the reduction of annual maintenance work labor requirements (normally and to a large extent performed by women).
To contribute to the country’s economic growth and to poverty reduction initiatives by the Royal Government, the UNCT supported efforts to enhance the capacity of the 109 organized farmers’ groups in contractual supply services, business management skills and group management.
Through this initiative, 2,855 farmers (60 per cent females) have earned more than USD 1.49 million through secured access to sustainable income through market linkages established with 96 schools and three hospitals in the country.
A total of 1,142 youth (53.3 percent females), have been engaged through youth employment portfolios, leading to the employment of 246 youth through GOWA. This has enabled the exploration of new markets, improved management of food prices and food-safety improvements in horticulture, while at the same time enabling farmers, artisans, and exporters to receive training in contract negotiation, compliance with food hygiene standards, sanitation measures and Codex guidance. Under the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity programme, the UNCT supported the Royal Government in increasing agricultural productivity, improving socio-economic conditions and nutrition services.
Moreover, a total of 474 farmers have benefited from a capacity development programme, including development of a behavior-change communication strategy, which has impacted the Household Dietary Diversity Score based on the 12 food groups observed (the mean score in the project areas increased from 7.5 in 2019 to 8.0 in 2021). Additionally, the proportion of households consuming a greater number of food groups has generally increased as compared to 2019.
There is an increase of 11 percentage points in households consuming 10 food groups (10 per cent in 2019 vs. 21 per cent in 2021). The proportion of households consuming at least eight food groups has also increased by 16 percentage points (48.6 per cent in 2019 to 64.9 per cent in 2021). An increase in marketed volumes (35 per cent) and the values of major crops (10 per cent) above baseline was also seen.
Informed by low-emissions development strategies for human settlement, transport, industry, and the agricultural sector, the UNCT supported the Royal Government in developing the nation’s enhanced second Nationally Determined Contributions with clear strategies and targets aimed at meeting the country’s climate commitment to remain carbon neutral, while providing opportunities to leverage global financing instruments to create improved livelihood opportunities by building resilience.
The UNCT, through its support for the Bhutan’s Low-Emission Urban Transport Project, aimed at replacing fossil-fueled taxis with electric vehicles, and has helped to eliminate 1,047 metric tons of CO2 emissions from the transport sector, contributing to the nation’s goal to remain carbon negative. This was achieved through an accelerated uptake of electric vehicles, made possible by addressing structural barriers and creating a favorable policy and regulatory environment.
The UNCT provided support for the development of Bhutan’s first National Adaptation Programme of Action, defining priority actions as the country adjusts to the effects of climate change. The draft was informed by a gender-sensitive vulnerability assessment undertaken in the high-priority sectors of agriculture, forest and biodiversity, health, and water.
In addition to setting the nation’s climate-change adaptation priorities, this programme will be an important national instrument in efforts to mobilize international climate financing.
Concurrently, the Royal Government has approved the Crop and Livestock Damage and Loss Assessment Methodology with the objective of providing uniform and standard tools to collect information regarding loss and damage resulting from climate-induced disasters and other natural hazards, as well as to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the highlands.