Choki Wangmo | Dagana

Even after decades of drinking and irrigation water shortages in Gesarling gewog in Dagana, residents say that little has been done to address the issue.

Without interventions, residents said that goongtongs had increased in the chiwogs as young people from the gewog migrate to towns, looking for income opportunities.

“Without water, we cannot grow vegetables or rear livestock. Our livelihoods are at risk,” said a resident, Nimchu, from Gesarling chiwog.

Most of the 30-acre wetland in Gesarling chiwog is left fallow.

With the only water source drying up at a rapid rate, drinking water shortages are severe for three months in winter. During the monsoon, they depend on rainwater.

Former Tashithang tshogpa, Kharkha Bdr Subba, said that about 40 people from the chiwog tried to explore alternative water sources from Kana Gewog. “In upper Tashithang chiwog, 15 percent of residents are facing severe water shortages and related challenges.”

While some residents blame road construction for drying water sources, Jit Bahadhur Jeevan said that the shortage could be partly due to the rapidly changing climate.

A resident, Tashi Chezom said: “If we use water for drinking, we are deprived of irrigation water. The situation is desperate.”

Tanka Bdr said that if the situation continues, people might have to resort to water tankers.

Roshan Gurung from Tanju said that out of 36 households in the chiwog, half had already left for other places.

A student of Gesarling Central School said that during the monsoon, the quality of water is poor which can cause health problems.

However, the residents are pinning their hopes on the National Water Flagship Programme.

Kharkha Bdr Subba said that another alternative could be installing water pumps from the source, which could resolve 90 percent of the problem.

Gesarling’s gewog administration officer, Karma Dorji, said that interventions are underway to solve the water shortage in the gewog.