At the seminar conducted by Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) on September 8, participants from Paro College of Education (PCE) and four schools presented proposals to address issues facing the communities in Paro.

During the seminar, five proposals – spring water conservation, repairing a canopy in the school, introducing public toilet in the public areas, solving the water shortage problem, and improving the drainage system in the schools were presented. They received feedback from the town committee members.

Following a training of trainers (ToT) for 16 teachers by BCMD in July, students of PCE and four schools in Paro went through a community mapping training.

Student of PCE, Sonam Nima, said that after going through the training, a team of community mappers was produced and transferred the idea to a larger group of individuals. “We explored community from a broader window; we talked with the people of the community, talked about the issues, and we tried to bring doable solutions to the issues.”

Community mapping approach is aimed at enabling people’s participation in development process in their locality, said BCMD. The approach was tested in Gemkha, Kuzhugchen and in Paro last year.

Executive director with BCMD, Siok Sian Pek Dorji, said that bottom up approach would make development more participatory.

The five proposals will receive funding from BCMD to implement the idea.

BCMD also conducted a survey during the ToT in Paro, which showed increased agreement on understanding the issues of the community, making a difference in the community, finding opportunities in the community, and understanding the role of the citizen’s participation in sustainable development.

At the seminar, Professor at Kansai University in Japan, Takayoshi Kusago, also talked about how Japan tackles issues of the aging population and migration through community process to revitalise a sense of belonging in the rural area. He said that the stage of development between Japan and Bhutan are different but the direction it is heading to is the same.  “Such programme can educate and make youth understand the importance of the community’s wellbeing. This is a small try but could make a difference.”

The participants will present implementation report in November this year.

Phurpa Lhamo