Of the  USD 10.17 million (M) SAARC Development Fund (SDF) committed to Bhutan for 13 projects, USD 6.72M has been disbursed so far.

As per the SDF’s charter, the funds are for projects under a social window and it focuses on poverty alleviation, education, health, human resource development, support to vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of the societies.

In Bhutan, SDF funded projects are being implemented by both government and non-governmental organizations like SABAH Bhutan, health ministry’s reproductive health programme, agriculture ministry’s national post-harvest center, Ministry of Information and Communication’s Department of Information Technology and Telecom, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan Youth Development Fund and UNDP Bhutan country office.

A press release from the SDF Secretariat states that the key objectives of SDF funded projects are building a social business organisation and a model of empowerment of women through crafts making and marketing, reduction in child and maternal mortality and enhancing the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables.

The other key objectives are providing affordable door-to-door services and reduce turnaround time by 70 percent access the 110 Government Citizen services or public services by the rural communities, strengthening care and response for children and operationalized the Child Care and Protection Act and the Children Adoption Act and adapting, evaluating and disseminating post-harvest, processing and value addition technologies for fruits and develop effective marketing linkages of processed products in SAARC countries.

The press release also states that it aims to provide emergency outreach services to women and children in need of care and protection through 24-hour’s emergency phone outreach service.

SDF has three funding windows namely economic, infrastructure and social.

The press release also states that the beneficiaries of the projects are poor or marginal women, mothers and newborns, doctors and nurses, farmers, vulnerable women and children.

Staff Reporter