…to improve hydromet services and disaster preparedness 

Disaster: The World Bank has provided a grant of USD 3.8 million (equivalent to Nu 258 million) to improve the country’s hydromet services and disaster preparedness.

The fund will be pumped into strengthening hydromet services and disaster resilience. The project will be implemented by hydromet, disaster management, and agriculture departments.

The project is expected to strengthen capacity for flood forecasting, and hydromet services delivery to the aviation, disaster risk management and agriculture sectors.

The key components of the project includes enhancement of meteorology services to the aviation sector, weather and flood forecasting, agromet and establishment of critical emergency infrastructures including national emergency operation centre and construction of helipads.

An agromet decision support system will be designed and agromet information products will be developed in two dzongkhags to assist farmers in coping with weather and climate extremes.

The resident representative of the World Bank for Bhutan, South Asia Region, Yoichiro Ishihara, said lack of a national emergency operation centre and transition of the hydromet department into an independent service delivery agency is seen as a challenge. This project aims to address these challenges.

While the geography of the country comes with an advantage of reaping hydropower benefits, he said it also poses a disaster risk. “The World Bank stands ready to collaborate further in the areas of disaster management, hydromet services and climate resilience with the Royal Government,” he said.

During the signing of the grant agreement yesterday the finance minister Namgay Dorji said such support from multinational developing partners would provide an opportunity to work together and confront natural calamities.

He said that the country has undergone substantial damage from the recent monsoon. Considering the size and population of the country, he said the damage is significant.

“By strengthening disaster preparedness and weather information services to key sectors, this project marks an important step in strengthening Bhutan’s resilience to weather related hazards,” said Poonam Pillai, Task Team Leader, Hydromet Services and Disaster Resilience Regional Project, World Bank.

The project is supported through grant funds provided by the South Asia Water Initiative and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) – with contributions from the Government of Japan and the European Union to the GFDRR.

The project builds on ongoing development partner investments in Bhutan and in the region.  It is part of the World Bank’s broader regional efforts to strengthen hydromet services and disaster resilience in South Asia.

The project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2020.

Tshering Dorji

(The last two paragraphs have been altered in the web version.)