YK Poudel

With emerging threats and uncertainties surrounding climate change and water, thrizins from across the country, five gewog thrizins and other officials attended the five-day training in Paro which ended yesterday.

Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Loknath Sharma, during the opening session called for a concerted effort to address the water crisis in the country.

“Water is a necessity, and we are seeing springs and water bodies drying up even in remote parts of the country. This effort is very critical and timely,” he said.

Water Resource Coordination Division Officiating Director, Tenzin Khorlo said that the role of local leaders in spring-shed management is crucial as they represent the interests of local communities and help make decisions that are equitable and sustainable.

“Springs are the social, economic, cultural, and ecological pillars of sustainable mountain development—vital sources of freshwater,” he said. “Their revival and spring-shed management are vital to ensure present and future water security and in making informed decisions in the gewogs.”

Spring-shed management, he said, is a science that recognises the importance of community engagement and participation being the primary beneficiaries as well as the custodians of these available water sources. “It enhances climate resilience by conserving water resources in these unprecedented times of changing climate.”

The participants prepared a tentative plan for spring revival and spring-shed management in their respective gewogs.

Participants were also taken for a visit to Dopshari and Lholing where spring-shed management has been a success.

Due to climate change and rising global temperature, 69 water sources (0.9 percent) have already dried up, and 25.1 percent (1,856) are in the process of drying of the 7,399 water sources in the country.

Among the 20 dzongkhags, Wangdue has the highest number of water sources (779), followed by Dagana (719). Haa has the least–101.

UN-Water recognises climate change as primarily a water crisis; its impacts are felt through worsening floods, rising sea levels, shrinking ice fields, wildfires, and droughts.

About 530 sub-water sheds were identified by the Watershed Management Division’s (WMD) assessment across the country in the spring of 2021.

The programme was supported by Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office with funding from the Himalayan Resilience Enabling Action Programme under the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia programme.

The training was conducted by ICIMOD, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Department of Water under the royal government.