Bhutan launched a USD 8.9 million project to address the water shortages and declining water quality on September 3. The project will restore and manage water catchments, introduce climate-resilient agricultural practices and livelihoods, and promote the resilience of climate-proof water and irrigation infrastructure.
With an additional USD 25 million in co-financing from the government, the five-year project, Advancing Climate-Resilience of the Water Sector in Bhutan (ACREWAS), will benefit more than 37,000 people of Gasa, Punakha, and Tsirang, some of the most climate-vulnerable regions of the country. Infrastructure and Transport Minister Dorji Tshering, said climate change is predicted to cause a substantive decline in Bhutan’s agricultural production in the absence of adaptation measures.
“We welcome this important transformative project, to be led by the Ministry, which will promote nature-based solutions driven by communities, institutions, and the private sector,” Lyonpo said. The project is supported by the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund (GEF-LDCF) and UNDP to address water shortages and declining water quality in the country, both driven by the global climate crisis.
The project will look at increasing the coherence of national and local policies related to climate-resilient water resource management, also strengthening the capacity of government and community-based institutions to manage these resources in an efficient, innovative and sustainable way.
The financial mechanisms will be established to encourage public-private and entrepreneurial participation in water resource management including in operations and maintenance, according to a press release from the UNDP.
Innovative conservation financing solutions such as the Payment for Environment Services (PES) will be introduced, offering farmers incentives to sustainably manage their land.
UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative, Mohammad Younus, said, “The impact of climate change on water poses a significant threat to sustainable development in Bhutan.”
The ACREWAS project is aligned with the government’s development plans and priorities, National Adaptation Plan (expected to be launched this year), and Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.