Thirteen households of Zangbi village in Zhemgang will soon abandon their temporary makeshift bamboo huts and move into concrete homes.

Zangbi Tshogpa, Sonam Zangpo said, “For generations, people here lived in bamboo huts roofed with banana leaves. Partly because people never left the village and also there is no power supply.”

The houses were built with support from Tarayana Foundation.

Sonam Zangpo said that there are some who continue to live in traditional huts. They are expected to receive support in the next phase of the project.

The project initiated under the auspices of the American Himalayan Foundation supports every household with labour charges, roofing materials, and other necessary materials required for the construction.

Sonam Zangpo said Zangbi would have remained the same without the initiative. The gewog administration in Phangkhar and the dzongkhag also supported the people of Zangbi to come up with livestock-related projects to stabilize livelihood.

Today, six households are involved in fishery and piggery farming.

The change in the village has also improved their livelihood. Zangbi was one of the villages with the highest rate of poverty incidences in the country.

However, this is expected to change, with almost all people in the village having a proper home to shelter and agriculture practice going more commercial.

Zhemgang dzongdag, Lobzang Dorji said during the multidimensional poverty index survey, the housing score was low and it hiked the index. Livelihood has become much better and the living standard improved with access to proper sanitation facilities.

The village is expected to have the power supply soon. There are plans to help the villagers take up dairy farming.

They are economically stable now and their livelihood secured as additional livestock and agriculture projects are in the planning, according to the dzongdag.

“Despite the support from the Tarayana Foundation, many did not think of building concrete houses. This was because the practice was followed for generations,” said Lobzang Dorji.

Tshogpa Sonam Zangpo said the local government officials had to convince them to build permanent houses. “It was almost made mandatory for the people. Now they are grateful for the change and support,” he said.

To meet the expenses, people started to work in groups. They moved from one house to another.

The dzongkhag hopes to keep their ancestral structures undisturbed when the people move into new houses.

The project supported over 200 households in Zhemgang to date.