Bhutan Struggles with Water Shortages, Causing Some to Move Elsewhere Looking for Work

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Article courtesy of Dawa Gyelmo | April 21st, 2016 | | Shared as educational material.

Photo Credit: Dawa Gyelmo

Phub Dem, a remote village in western Bhutan, is just one of the areas experiencing water shortages. After the continual drying of nearby streams and water sources over the past few decades, water shortages were inevitable, experts say. Because of the lack of water in the area, much of the land in the area has been left fallow and some farmers have even left affected towns to seek work elsewhere. Such conditions are commonplace all around Bhutan, including its capital od Thimpu. What’s surprising is that Bhutan is not water scarce: it has an abundance of water. Experts say that the country just needs to have better development and more coordinated management of the water resources already existing within the region.

The per capita water availability ration for Bhutan is rather high–near one hundred nine thousand cubic meters every year. Other nations in the region, like India and China, can’t even compare to such a high number. Unfortunately, water availability is seasonal and there are multiple problems at the local level. For people that live on the mountain slopes, water is drawn from distant streams and springs, an action that is rather hard to do depending on the distance and the condition of the “drawer”. And it’s not just rural isolated villages. As said, Thimpu has been experiencing some of the same conditions. The southern part of the city, the Babesa community has stated it has water shortages. An inventory taken two years ago suggested that around seventeen percent of the total number of households in Bhutan suffered from water shortages. For Bhutan though, it is difficult to provide a stable water supply due to its mountainous placement the difficulty is only compounded by the lack of investment in the water sector. Read more about the issues that Bhutan faces here:

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