The monsoon officially comes to an end tomorrow with Thruebab or Blessed Rainy Day.
The day provides us with an opportunity to wash away the accumulated negatives. But it should also be used as an opportunity by both public and officials to recollect, learn, and begin planning for the next monsoon. It’s never too early.
It was forecast by the hydro-met division that above average amounts of rain would fall this year.
Despite the forecast, we may not have been fully prepared for what lay in store.
In Thimphu, we were reminded that drainage continues to be problem, with some parts of the city submerged even after a few minutes of heavy downpour. Some have joked online that after five minutes of rain in the USA, the water disappears but that in Thimphu, after five minutes of rain, the roads disappear.
However, we are comforted to know that a drainage masterplan is in progress which once implemented, should prevent any more such flooding. This information will be particularly welcomed by pedestrians who are splashed by vehicles or have to risk injury by crossing debris-filled torrents that flow over roads and footpaths following a downpour.
The situation turned more dire mid-monsoon with flooding occurring along the southern belt of the country, causing evacuations of both people and equipment, landslides, the washing away of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and cutting-off of communities.
The Dzongkhalum block was finally reconnected just a few days back. Some gewogs like Metedkha and Getena, and villages in other gewogs in Chukha still remain cut off two months later.
The all-important Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway was also severed but reconnected in a few days.
All agencies did all they could to the best of their abilities this monsoon in responding to the disasters. Led By His Majesty The King, who personally waded through flood waters and assisted in evacuations, the country was able to minimise the damage of this monsoon.
Now, it is our duty to prepare for the next monsoon. Drainage systems need to be improved. Areas at risk, such as settlements and roads, have to be identified and adaptive and corrective measures put in place wherever possible. Information dispersal by the government and media can be further improved.
We need to have in place short- and long- term plans.
The climate is changing. Weather patterns are changing. We need to adapt.