UNDP: Australia yesterday committed a total of AUD 100,000 to the UNDP, to support the Royal Government’s reconstruction efforts of the Gelephu thromde water treatment plant, which was severely damaged by the devastating flooding in July, according to a UN press release.

AUD 100, 000 (USD 73,947) will be channeled through the UNDP to support the ongoing reconstruction efforts led by the thromde with support from the Department for Disaster Management and Department for Engineering Services. The funding commitment by the Government of Australia was formalised through the signing of a third-party cost-sharing agreement between the Australian ambassador to Bhutan, Harinder Sidhu and the UNDP Resident Representative Niamh Collier-Smith.

Australia’s commitment adds to an ongoing combined investment of USD 250,000 by UNICEF and UNDP, in a bid to help the government move closer to the full cost of building back better, the Gelephu – Mao Chhu Infiltration Gallery and Water Treatment Plant, which is estimated to cost USD 550,000.

A Post Disaster Needs Assessment carried out by the UNDP in October 2016 noted that disruption in the supply of treated water posed health risks and disruption in medical services of the Central Region Referral Hospital, disruption in education and loss of learning for over 3,000 students and loss in business income. The assessment also stressed the need to build back better so that the facility will be able to withstand floods in the future, even if they are more severe than the July 2016 floods. The Random Rubble Masonry protection wall of the plant will be upgraded with a Reinforced Cement Concrete wall and the base of the earlier two tiers spur wall will be widened with five tiers.

Speaking on behalf of the UNDP in Bhutan Resident Coordinator Piet Vochten thanked the Government of Australia for the contribution adding that over the years, the Australian government has not only helped Bhutan but many countries all over the world.

During the agreement signing Harinder Sidhu said: “Although it is a modest amount, it is a contribution from the heart and part of our long-standing relationship with Bhutan.”

Department of Disaster Management director Chhador Wangdi also thanked the Government of Australia and said: “The restoration work of the Gelephu water treatment plant has been a priority for the government, as it could have cut off our people from their daily survival needs.” He informed the partners at the signing ceremony that the tender for constructing the retaining wall has been issued.

He further added he would like to thank the Government of Australia not only for this support but also a lot of other contributions in terms of capacity building and enabling  DDM officials to study disaster management.

Staff reporter