UNDP-ALM Case Study - Bhutan - October 2011

This UNDP-ALM Case Study offers a 6-page overview of the project.


Unprecedented glacier melting in the Bhutan Himalayas is posing imminent risks in the form of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). GLOF events can release millions of cubic meters of water and debris into narrow mountain valleys and thereby cause catastrophic loss of lives, livelihoods and critical infrastructure. The risks are mounting as water levels in several glacier lakes approach critical geostatic thresholds. In direct response this project is working to reduce climate change-induced GLOF risk in the Punakha-Wangdi and Chamkhar Valleys in Bhutan. The project is undertaking a controlled, artificial drainage effort at Lake Thorthomi, one of Bhutan’s most dangerous glacier lakes. An early warning system is being established in the downstream Punakha-Wangdue valley. 21 hazard-prone communities are being trained in GLOF preparedness. The project is also integrating climate change-related risk management into Disaster Management legislation. The project has lowered Lake Thorthomi by more than 3.63 meters, averting a predicted GLOF event. 17 siren towers along the Punakha-Wangdue valley are providing GLOF early warning signals to 21 vulnerable communities. 67% of households in the target area of the project are aware of GLOF hazard zonation and evacuation routes. Findings from Bhutan are informing GLOF projects throughout the region. Key lessons learned from the project include recognizing the importance of involving stakeholders from different government departments to create appropriate adaptation measures and ensuring that there is on-going cooperation and consistent support between the stakeholders and the government.