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World Bank secures re-settlers

This project will benefit over 10,000 households with 30 percent of the beneficiaries being women

By Tashi Namgyal

The World Bank has developed a Resettlement Framework (RF) for the 8 million dollar Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP) which was launched in 2017 in Bhutan. The RF will cover implementation modalities for Additional Financing (AF) to the Project with the aim of assisting the preparation of Abbreviated Resettlement Action Plan (A-RAP) as and when needed.

The current AF of the FSAPP has four components. Under the first component, there is an Original grant of USD 1.079 million with an AF grant of USD 0.120 million which are allocated to strengthen farmer and producer groups. The second component is to enhance farmer productivity with an Original grant of USD 5.209 million and AF grant of USD 3.299 million.

Enhancing access to markets will form the third component with an Original grant of USD 1.001 million and AF grant of USD 0.978 million, while the fourth and last component is mainly for project management with an Original grant of USD 0.711 million and AF grant of USD 0.243 million.

ISSUE OF LAND ACQUISITION, REQUISITION, INVOLUNTARY RESETTLEMENT WITHIN THE PROJECT

Although land acquisition and requirements under the AF is no different than the parent project, it is expected that only public land will be used and no private land will be acquired for the AF activities. However, in some unavoidable circumstance, a voluntary land contribution for rural community infrastructure, such as farm roads and irrigation canals, is a common and long-established practice in Bhutan and there is no provision for any sort of compensation or land substitute as these are done purely on voluntary-basis. World Bank-financed projects, completed and ongoing, have followed the same practice. Implementation experiences so far indicate that this practice is generally accepted and practiced smoothly.

It is expected that FSAPP AF, with its focus and support to community infrastructures, will continue to follow the same practice for its land needs. However, if land donation is envisaged, it is to be ensured that the potential donor or donors have been appropriately informed and consulted about the project and the choices available to them; potential donors are aware that refusal is an option, and have confirmed in writing their willingness to proceed with the donation; the amount of land being donated is minor and will not reduce the donor’s remaining land area below that required to maintain the donor’s livelihood at current levels; no household relocation is involved; the donor is expected to benefit directly from the project; for community or collective land, donation can only occur with the consent of individuals using or occupying the land; the Borrower will maintain a transparent record of all consultations and agreements reached; land donated should be free from any dispute over ownership, or any other encumbrances; consultations with the donating households should be conducted in a free and transparent manner; an agreement in writing will be required for all land donation transactions between the project and the landowner; transaction of the donation process will have to be properly documented; and assets that remain in the hands of volunteers should not be rendered economically unviable.

Resettlement Principles as per the Land Act of Bhutan 2007 and World Bank Operational Directive (OP)

Following the Land Act on land acquisition and involuntary and incorporating World Bank OP 4.12 on Involuntary Resettlement, the land acquisition and other involuntary resettlement impacts will be minimized as much as possible. Any land acquisition/resettlement will be carried out and compensation provided in order to improve or atleast restore the pre-project income and living standards of the displaced persons. All the information related to resettlement preparation and implementation will be disclosed to all concerned, and people’s participation will be ensured in planning and implementation of the Project.

The payment of compensation for land loss, housing, assets and resettlement allowances will be made in full prior to the contractor taking physical acquisition of the land and prior to the commencement of any construction activities.

All activities related to resettlement planning, implementation, and monitoring will ensure involvement of women, and appropriate grievance redressal mechanisms will be in place for speedy dispute solutions.

However, the focus of the A-RAP will be on income restoration and rehabilitation.

Income restoration measures

Wherever possible, the project will try to match the skills of impacted persons to work during construction and facilitate the contractors awarded the development works to employ both skilled and unskilled labor among people living in the project area of influence. If the skills are missing but the individuals are in dire need of a means of income (especially the squatter household), the project will facilitate with the contractor on-the-job training for needy and interested persons.

Assessment and Survey

The PMU will conduct socio-economic survey to identify all affected people/squatters who will be displaced or affected by the project and to assess the project’s socioeconomic impacts on them. Based on this survey, an assessment will be done which will include potential social impacts, income and livelihood of displaced affected people/squatters and gender-disaggregated information pertaining to the economic and socio-cultural conditions of displaced people. As part of the assessment, it will identify individuals and groups who may be differentially or disproportionately affected by the project because of their disadvantaged or vulnerable status. Where such individuals and groups are identified, the assessment will propose and implement targeted measures so that adverse impacts do not fall disproportionately on them and they are not disadvantaged in relation to sharing the benefits and opportunities resulting from development.

Gender Impacts and Mitigation Measures

The A-RAP will formulate measures to ensure that socio-economic conditions, needs and priorities of the affected/squatter women are identified and the process of resettlement does not disadvantage women. It will ensure that gender impacts are adequately addressed and mitigated. Women’s focus groups discussions will be conducted to address specific women’s issues. During disbursement of compensation and provision of assistance, priority will be given to female-headed households.

The project management office supported by Dzongkhag officials will internally monitor resettlement activities and will ensure recording of affected peoples’/squatters’ views on resettlement issues. The reports will then be sent to MoAF and World Bank.

The Bhutan Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP) was approved on 27 April 2017 with a closing date of 30 Dec 2022. The total cost of the parent project is USD 9.33 million, of which a Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) Grant of USD 8 million, Borrower contributions of USD 1.10 million, and Local Beneficiary contributions of USD 0.23 million. The Project Development Objective (PDO) is to increase agricultural productivity and enhance access to markets for farmers in selected gewogs in Southwest Bhutan. The project supports the Royal Government of Bhutan’s (RGoB) efforts to reduce rural poverty, food insecurity, and high levels of malnutrition, to increase resilience to climate change through climate smart agricultural productivity enhancement for food security and nutrition, and increasing farmer’s access to local and export markets. The project will reach out to 9,682 farmer households in 24 Gewogs across five Dzongkhags.

The Project is designed to reduce the county’s reliance on food imports and help combat malnutrition in children while improving the productivity of agricultural, which employs 60 percent of Bhutan’s people. This project will benefit over 10,000 households with 30 percent of the beneficiaries being women.

This project will help increase productivity of crops such as rice, vegetables, pulses, potatoes, cardamom, ginger and citrus, according to the World Bank Country Director for Bhutan. It will equip farmers and producers’ groups with greater knowledge and resources, while also promoting high value nutrient-rice crops for domestic and export markets.

The FSAPP is a five-year project (2017-2020) funded through a grant under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP). The project also aims to improve homegrown school feeding programs for 3,000 school children in 16 schools located in 11 project gewogs. It will do so by linking producer groups with schools, focusing on 24 gewogs in the five south western dzongkhags of Chhukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse and Sarpang.

The FSAPP project was developed in partnership with the World Bank and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

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