Strengthening research studies in colleges, uplifting lives of girls and women in rural areas, and digitising existing services in agriculture sector were proposed for areas of partnership at the Bhutan-International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development(ICIMOD) partner’s day celebration yesterday.

A panel discussion bringing in representatives from Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), National Land Commission (NLC), Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment and Conservation (BTFEC), National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Bhutan Chamber of Commerce Industries (BCCI) and ICIMOD was held yesterday in Thimphu.

The discussion was held to strengthen and align activities of Bhutan’s 12th Plan and ICIMOD’s medium term action plan (MTAP) IV.

RUB’s vice-chancellor, Nidup Dorji, said that with ICIMOD, Bhutan can work in improving the quality of education to make it relevant to the region and encourage entrepreneurship and agriculture related enterprises. “RUB has put in effort to build the culture of research. We are working on a number of master’s programmes and PhD programmes, one of which is climate studies.”

While some organisations raised specific ideas to be taken forward, NCWC’s director, Kunzang Lhamu, suggested to work to empower women and building resilient committee by promoting women and children in disaster risk management.

Kunzang Lhamu said that a study conducted by NCWC showed that there were limited sex-disaggregated data, which further led to limited discussion and evidence to build intervention. Some of the findings were that women had heavy workload and faced domestic violence that challenged promoting women and children.

Women and youth issues were raised to be a common concern in various consultation meetings with other countries, ICIMOD’s director general, Dr David Molden said.

He said that for the MTAP IV, ICIMOD decided to consult the partner countries and pick common issues, which would be proritised by ICIMOD. “We found many similar issues such as women, youth, and ecosystem.”

David Molden expressed interest in working with BTFEC in Bhutan.

BTFEC was established in 1992 and has supported over 190 projects working towards environment conservation.

Four ICIMOD-Bhutan publications -organic agriculture development strategy, Bhutan tourism product development guidelines, tourism action plan for Haa, and land cover change and its eco-environmental responses in Nepal were also released yesterday.

The partner’s day was held coinciding with the 49th board of governor’s meeting, which began from May 14 in Thimphu. The five-day board meeting will review the centre’s progress, policies, and strategies.

Phurpa Lhamo