Chencho Dema | Punakha

Determining the value of land mortgaged for loans, loan interest rates, waste management and many more were on the minds of the people when an idea of a Community Engagement Platform (CEP), also known as Nangzom, was shared with the villagers of Chubu gewog, Punakha yesterday.

The idea is new in the gewog, but villagers are keen in participating if the platform can provide an opportunity to raise their concerns and result in actions. A resident of Chubu gewog, Khandu said that it would be beneficial for rural communities if relevant authorities could assess the worth of the land in rural areas and issue loans accordingly while also taking the interest rate into consideration. “Without money, we are not able to do or buy anything,” he said.

These were the concerns brought up on April 25 when the Gup of Kabjisa Sonam Dorji, the new chairperson of DT introduced the CEP during his familiarization tour in the gewog. Hundreds of Chubu gewog residents gathered at the Chubu gewog centre to discuss their difficulties and learn about the idea of the CEP, also known as Nangzom.

The CEP entails organising chiwog-level groups of community members to discuss problems and activities that are important to the community. CEP is defined as mini-neighbourhood group formed among the community on the principle of volunteerism.

The programme was piloted in Dagana, Punakha, and Mongar in 2021. In Punakha CEP was piloted in two gewogs, Lingbukha and Goenshari.

Sonam Phuntsho, the Punakha Dzongkhag Tshogdu secretary said the programme is being tested in just two gewogs and will be instituted under the 55 tshogpas in the 11 gewogs.

The programme involves forming groups of people from the community at the chiwog level to discuss issues and developmental activities that matter to the community, while it is also aimed at improving community participation in developmental and social activities.

The primary objectives of the CEF are to improve the livelihood of the people in the villages, address problems in the community and share responsibility.

CEF was introduced on April 21 from Lingmukha gewog and as of April 25, they completed four gewogs out of 11. The CEF programme is being run in seven dzongkhags, one of which is in Punakha, with technical support from JICA and the Department of Local Government Disaster Management (DLGDM).