In Bhutan, a new irrigation system provides a much-needed steady supply of water to farming communities
Last Updated: 9 Jan 2023
Bhutan's Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor and UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota inaugurated a 13.5-kilometer irrigation scheme in Jimithang village in September 2022, ensuring uninterrupted access to water for farmers in 12 villages.
The launch of the scheme – attended by UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Asia and Pacific, Ms. Kanni Wignaraja – will serve 193 households and cover three gewogs of Dzomi, Lingmukha, and Shengana in Punakha, supplying water mainly for rice farming.
Retrofitted with new and climate-resilient technology - also known as climate-proofing - the irrigation system is designed to better withstand extreme climate weather. The pressurized piped irrigation system is durable and ensures continuous water flow and improves water saving capacity and efficiency, as opposed to the conventional open-irrigation system.
In Bhutan where landslides are common due to hilly and mountainous landscapes, open-irrigation channels often get blocked by slides, falling tree branches, and debris, which further trigger landslides.
Paddy fields in Punakha, Bhutan. Photo: UNDP Bhutan/Dechen Wangmo
The upgradade of the Jimthang irrigation scheme was carried out from May 2021 to April 2022. It was supported through the project 'Supporting Climate Resilience and Transformational Change in the Agriculture Sector in Bhutan' funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), implemented by the Royal Government of Bhutan in partnership with UNDP. The project is focused on enhancing the resilience of smallholder farmers in the country to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor thanked the GCF and UNDP for the financial support. The irrigation will benefit about 191 households covering total area of 758.5 acres of land. "With the continuous and sustainable water supply throughout the year, farmers’ livelihoods and living standards will definitely improve through increased crop and vegetable production."
UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said the climate-resilient irrigation schemes supported by the project, including the one in Jimithang, are a demonstration of the excellent partnership between the Royal Government and UNDP in the agriculture sector.
“Climate change had led to increased incidents of floods, droughts, and landslides, all of which have hit farming communities hard. Investments in climate-resilient irrigation schemes is key to building a sustainable and resilient food system. UNDP remains committed towards supporting national efforts to advance food system transformation and climate-resilient development goals.”
The Jimithang irrigation scheme is among 36 schemes approved for climate-proofing under the joint project. So far, it has upgraded 10 irrigation schemes, including the one in Jimithang.
View the original article by UNDP Bhutan here.