Almost three years after a boat mishap in Rendibi, Zhemgang, took the lives of nine men in the remote village of Langdurbi, depriving families of their main income earners, a social protection scheme of Nu 568,000 was spent to improve the livelihoods of the victims.

The agriculture ministry’s rural livelihood project (RLP)-III, which operates from Zhemgang, has provided CGI sheets to three households and Jersey cows to five households.

Bardo gewog mangmi, Tshering Tenzin, said two households, which opted for cardamom and a household that opted for mandarin will receive the saplings by May this year.

He said that the support benefitted the victims, as the three women who opted for CGI sheets could not roof their houses, after they lost their husbands.

One of the victims, who chose the CGI sheets, was using it to roof her incomplete house, as she could not add another storey after her husband died. “It will really help the victim during the monsoon,” a resident of the village said.

RLP’s project monitoring and evaluation officer, Dawa Dakpa, said the project focuses on improving the livelihoods of the rural poor in the country and they felt the need to uplift the living standards of those vulnerable families in Langdurbi.

Langdurbi is a day’s walk from the Bardo gewog centre and a day’s walk from the nearest road head in Rendibi.

The people living in the 72 households in the village are beneficiaries of Tarayana Foundation, a civil society organisation focused on uplifting and enhancing the lives of the vulnerable population in the country.

The people in the village depend on subsistence agriculture and families cultivate maize. As the most inaccessible village in the dzongkhag, people depend on horses and work as day labourers at construction sites for their main source of cash income.

After the boat mishap that occurred on May 2014, the widows struggled to make ends meet. In November 2015, the widow of one of the victim’s committed suicide, leaving her three children behind. Today, the children are looked after by their uncle, who works as a cook in a school in the gewog.

Dawa Dakpa said that two of the nine households have been categorised under the “very poor” category during the wealth ranking exercise conducted in 2015. “The families needed urgent external support and we decided to step in.”

He said that most families chose dairy farming, as they could sell dairy products in the village and use the income to educate their children.

A beneficiary, Dorji Dema, who chose mandarin, said she decided to plant mandarin so that her three children could benefit in the future. “As they grow older, they need money for their education and I hope to earn some income from the mandarin.”

Of the three acres of land she owns, she decided to use about an acre and a half for mandarin plantation.

Dorji Dema was left with her three children, the youngest only five months old when her husband died. She also has a visually impaired mother and an uncle to look after.

“Life became difficult for my family after my husband died but it has to go on,” she said. “It must have been our fate.”

Tashi Dema