Dechen Dolkar

Around 254 households in Dogar gewog, 250 monks of Sali Gonpa, and students of Dawakha Middle Secondary School can expect continuous supply of clean drinking water after the inauguration of the nature-based interventions in Paro on September 30.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the Founding President of the Tarayana Foundation, and other dignitaries attended the inauguration ceremony.

A total capacity of 109,700-litre water reservoir tanks with traditional water filtration techniques and 12.1km of drinking water pipes were installed in 10 villages of the gewog. The beneficiary includes Tango, Sali, Tashigang, Lhajakha, Gomchu, Dawakha  Lhagay, Sali gonpa, and Tango sawmill villages.

Through the formation of the water-user group for sustainability, the communities have been trained on managing water sources.

Tarayana Foundation Project Officer, Karma Euden said that with this project created water flows accessible to animals, curbing human-wildlife conflicts and promoting a balanced coexistence.

“This comprehensive strategy not only caters to the communities’ immediate water requirements but also underscores the commitment to sustainable water management through nature-based solutions known as springshed,” she said.

The project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI): an important part of the German government’s international climate finance commitment implemented closely with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

Tarayana Foundation in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Bhutan implemented the Nu 1.3 million project.

The project targets to benefit at least 18 water harvesting schemes in the landscape.

The project supported the springshed assessment of four springs and one lake in Dogar gewog and formed water user groups.

The Project Coordinator of WWF-Bhutan, Tandin, said amid a worsening climate crisis, water scarcity and droughts would become more common with changing weather patterns. “The impacts are felt in the rural pockets of Bhutan with many struggling for safe drinking water and irrigation.”

He said that the project assessed springshed areas and developed interventions to restore drying springs that serve as a source of water to communities in the project areas.

Dogar Gup Kinley Penjor, said that there was an acute shortage of water in the gewog earlier but now with this project the community will have plenty of water, not only for drinking but also for use in vegetable gardens.

He said that although there were spring water sources available in the gewog, the community was not able to use them due to a lack of knowledge on water source management.

“Now people are trained on water source management and filtrations. They can construct similar systems at other water sources if there is a water shortage in the gewog,” the gup said.

Sangay Tshering, a 50-year-old from Sali Chiwog, said that although there were water sources available in the villages, there was an acute shortage of water in the village before. Now, with the construction of reservoirs and filtration, the community has enough drinking water.

Traditional water filtration

The project has used an intake tank and filtration using nature-based methods applied at the water sources. The traditional water filtration within the wooden boxes functions as filtration chambers. Stones, gravel, and charcoal are used as layers to filter particles.

The stones are placed at the bottom of the chambers, acting as a first filter to catch larger particles and avoid congestion at higher levels. A thick layer atop the stones improves filtration, allowing water to pass but trapping thicker contaminants.

The project has also used a bamboo hole charcoal water filter at the water source, a traditional method for effective water purification.

Karma Euden said that this filtration system harnesses the properties of bamboo and charcoal to provide clean and safe drinking water. This filtration requires low maintenance and accessibility to resource-constrained communities.

“This filtration process is very sustainable because bamboo is widely available and when combined with charcoal, it offers a natural and efficient approach to eliminate contaminants without the use of complicated technology,” she said.