While major thromdes and western dzongkhags saw the increase in population, the eastern and central dzongkhags suffered huge population loss over the years.

Of the total 334,185 migrants, 39.8 percent migrated from one dzongkhag to another, out of which 40.8 percent were male and 38.9 percent female according to PHCB 2017.

Thimphu thromde saw the highest population gain of 48,214 while Trashigang experienced the highest population loss of 23,612.

In 2005, 32.7 percent of the population migrated between dzongkhags.

Employment dominated the reason for migration for males, 18.7 percent, and family move for females, 6.2 percent. Education was the second biggest reason for migration for male and female, 8.9 percent and 7.6 percent respectively.

The age group of 25 to 29 migrated the most at 66 percent, followed by the age group 20 to 24 at 65 percent.

At the pre-Japan week event in Thimphu yesterday, a seminar on enhancing revitalisation of rural communities discussed the need for a comprehensive planning and intervention to enable rural communities revitalisation.

Creating employment opportunities, maximising local resources and rich culture, improving the standard of living in rural communities, rural tourism, educational institutions, and empowerment of local governance among others were found essential for rural communities revival.

Director of Department of Human Settlement, Karma Sonam, said that migration and development were changing the outlook and landscapes of rural communities.

“Our villages are the root of our traditions and cultures. Construction of roads in rural communities has enhanced economic activities and accessibility,” he said. “While the road connected villages, have they done the same to our communities”?

Other concerns related to rural settlements were the rural areas developing modern amenities to comfort tourist, increasing human-wildlife conflict added to the distress caused by the labour shortage.

“The direct impact is leaving behind lands fallow. We are continuously losing our culture of one family helping other and our unique Bhutanese landscapes,” said Karma Sonam.

The participants of Knowledge Co-Creation Programme who went on the excursion to Ama town, one of the islands in Japan to learn about the success story of the town’s economy and community revitalization strategies, shared their plans and experiences that could be localised and implemented in the country.

Ama town in early 2000 was under pressure to merge with other municipalities because of declining population and lack of economic activities. However, the town refused merger and developed revitalisation strategies through active participation of local residents, good leadership, collaboration with schools and willingness of residents.

While the experiences shared by KCCP participants highlighted the importance of legislation in the revitalisation of rural communities, Chhado Drukpa of DHS said Bhutan did not have special planning act because of which plans in the interest of country, villages, and the settlement did not work.

The panel discussion highlighted the creation of regional urban centres, holistic tourism network, and holistic service delivery among others as some essential components for the people in rural communities to function.