It is the time of the year when neighbours gather around to help each other to sow maize in Pam chiwog of Samkhar gewog, Trashigang.

Besides the labour contribution, the annual tradition also calls for a social get together under extreme weather conditions, where farmers are seen singing on top of their voices. To beat the fatigue, alcohol is plenty at the site.

However, Sonam Gyeltshen looks concerned.

Some 10 people have come to offer their labour to sow maize on his fields. The 53-year-old is worried because there is not much water stored in his small tank.

“I used to enjoy such gatherings before but it worries me today,” he said. “Without enough drinking water, we are left handicapped most of the time.”

The issue of water shortage in Pam is not new.

Sonam Gyeltshen said that it’s been more than six years since they have been suffering from water shortage in the area.

Today most of the households in the chiwog get the water on their own, investing not less than Nu 30,000 in the process.

Sonam Gyeltshen connected to a private source from about 600 metres above his home. It is barely enough to sustain his family of five.

He said in times of events like rimdro, the situation worsens. “With limited water in the tank, we can only manage to cook,” he said. “There is no water left to clean the utensils and other chores.”

Karma Yangzom, 46, who runs a workshop in the chiwog also shared similar challenges. After surviving on runoff water from the fields above her workshop, she finally managed to build a mini reservoir from the groundwater near her workshop.

She also provides carwash service at the workshop, which requires a continuous supply of water with adequate force. However, the water from her mini reservoir couldn’t deliver the required pressure for a car wash.

With the help of a friend, the woman pumped the water. “I have cleaner water,” Karma Yangzom said.

She also said the water benefitted about 20 individuals working at the workshop.

However, Pam’s water shortage is likely to end by early next year, as the dzongkhag has identified a new water source for the village in the upper part of Rangshikhar.

Work has been tendered out and it is expected to begin by next month and all the 82 households will receive a water tap each once the project is completed.

The project is being implemented at a cost of Nu 5.6 million.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang