Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bhutan - Mountain people at centre of development process

Development issues are slow in mountain region and development is incomplete without participation of the people living in mountainous region, particularly women.

Bhutan +10, an international conference, which began today, is looking to address some of these issues in the region and beyond, in the next four days.

Participants representing mountain people, researchers, policy makers and development practitioners in the conference have one common agenda- to put mountain people at the centre of development process.

The Agriculture and Forests Minister, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, said such conference brings a wider knowledge and platform to share experiences and good practices.

“We can learn from each other and replicate the good practices that are working and avoid those that are not working. In this way this conference will help us to link gender with development and that development is based on equality, on equal footing between men and women.”

The Director General of ICIMOD, Dr. David Molden, said women carry quite a load as far as managing natural resources already. “With Climate Change and migration of men to cities, women carry most of a burden and that does make sense if they are doing the job, there should be more women in leadership position.”

Focus has been called to address women concerns on climate change and adaptation given that women play substantial role in taking care of natural resources.

ICIMOD’s Gender Specialist Dr. Manohara Khadka said one of the learning experiences from Hindu Kush Himalayan region is that government in this region are ahead in terms of developing people centered policy.” But if you look at these policies, there is an exclusion of women and people who really have a grassroots experience. Policy making process are happening but without engaging women in policy forum.”

According to key findings on gender and biodiversity management in the Himalayan region, rural women are more involved than men and they are also the backbone of mountain agriculture, livelihoods and natural resources management.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Bhutan - Restoration of Yongla Goenpa misses deadlines

Yongla Goenpa in Pemagatshel is one of the sacred Goenpas in the Country. It is blessed by many revered lams. In September 2009, the Goenpa suffered a major damage caused by an earthquake. Three years on and the restoration of the Goenpa is yet to be complete.

Our reporter, Thinley Dorji, in Pemagatshel says without a proper Goenpa in place, the local people are facing many problems, especially while performing religious rites.

The Shumar Gup, Lepo, says although renovation works are in full swing the progress is slow.
The Goenpa also serves as the summer residence of Pemagatshel Rabdey. Currently, the monks are put in a temporary shelter.

“In the first year we had to perform the Drupchen in the open ground, and later we requested the Dzongkhag to build a temporary building for us to keep our relics,” said the Lam Neten of Pemagatshel Rabdey, Jampel Sangay. He said their Drasha was dismantled for reconstruction last year. “Now our monks don’t have proper place to stay. They have been put in huts.”

Earlier the Rabdey used to move to the Goenpa on the 1st day of fifth Bhutanese month and stay there till 30th day of ninth Bhutanese month. But now they stay there for only about a month. Even the Phurpai Drubchen had to be preponed.

According to Zobel Gup, Pema Dorji, the decision has made many people unhappy.
Even as the restoration work continues, the Dzongkhag says they are facing numerous challenges to complete the work.

The District Engineer, Ugyen Norbu, said as the site is located at high altitude, it is very difficult to set the cement and labor is another, especially during winter. “None of the Bhutanese labor is willing to work there. We have to hire the non-national labourers who are demanding high wages.”

The history of the Goenpa dates back to some 200 years ago. Although nobody knows when the Goenpa was exactly built, the elders say it was founded by Lam Rigzin Jigme Kuendrel. The Lam built the Goenpa following the instruction of his master Terton Rigzin Jigme Lingpa.

Since then many revered Lamas served and blessed the Goenpa. During the Lam Sonam Zangpo’s in 1976, the Geonpa saw a major renovation.