Sonam runs a homestay and sells ornamental plants

Boosting community engagement in Chali

Chali gewog in Mongar is taking initiatives to improve community engagement in various activities in the gewog.

Waste management initiatives and the creation of user groups for better information dissemination and community engagement are some of the initiatives. 

Last year, gewog administration officer, Tshering Dema, along with other officers through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) visited Japan for Support for Community Engagement in Local Governance (SCLG) training.

Tshering Dema said that she learned more about waste management and community engagement in the activities of the local governance.

After she returned to the country, construction of waste collection sheds, sensitisation and awareness programmes on waste management and monthly cleaning campaigns were initiated.

“The gewog’s bolero trucks are also used for waste collection from the gewog. I can say that the gewog looks much cleaner now,” said Tshering Dema.

Tshering Dema said that although community groups existed in the gewogs, it was not identified as user groups. “We identified more people in the group, had a chairperson, identified their roles and responsibilities, and involved them more in the activities of the LG. Minor maintenance of roads or irrigation channels is today done by the user groups.”

Forty-nine-year-old Sonam is a recipient of JICA training for food preservation and packaging. 

Sonam is an independent businesswoman. Today, she runs a homestay and sells ornamental plants from her home. She started homestay business in 2008.

Apart from her farm work, she is also exploring ideas to process cookies and candies with the local produce. Lack of space is a challenge.

She underwent training on food preservation and packaging in Japan through JICA between 2006 and 2007. “We were taught various things and one was homestay. Food processing and the idea to sell the plants were also through the training.”

She has also provided food processing and preservation training to various youth groups and farmers.

She said that following her training she began producing guava juice from home. “But without a processing house, it was not possible to produce in a large amount and make it clean.”

While her ornamental plant business is running well in the community, guests at the homestay have decreased over years.

She said that this could be due to poor road conditions in the eastern dzongkhags. 

“Prior to the JICA training, I just ran a farm and didn’t have other businesses. And the knowledge from JICA has been beneficial.”

Phurpa Lhamo 

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