Inclusive CRRWASH services - Bhutan



Strengthening the climate resilience of rural WASH systems for over 88,000 people in the Bhutanese districts of Dagana, Zhemgang, and Trashigang.

Inclusive Climate Resilient Rural WASH services - Bhutan is part of an ongoing multi-country programme partnership with the Government of Australia’s Water for Women Fund implemented by SNV with partners in Bhutan, Lao PDR, and Nepal.

The project builds on SNVs long term partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan, including the success in ending open defecation practice nationwide in 2022. In partnership with the Department of Water, Water and Sanitation Division of Department of Infrastructure Development and district governments of Dagana, Zhemgang, and Trashigang, UTS-ISF, CBM Australia, Royal Society for Protection of Nature, and Disabled People’s Organisation of Bhutan, the project contributes to:

  • strengthening the climate-resilient management of rural water services,

  • leveraging current government infrastructure investment in the sector, and

  • establishing links between improved access to rural WASH services and broader water security.

Representing different climatic zones in the country, project activities across the three districts seek to identify possible responses to the critical water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges faced by the country. These include:

  • countrywide drying up of water sources (now reported at 35%),

  • strengthened management models to ensure continuity of rural water supply services and post-construction support

  • follow up and regulation to ensure safely managed sanitation practice, post-ODF.

Because Bhutan’s mountainous ecosystem makes its WASH systems highly vulnerable to climate change, it is urgent to activate all types of leaders – both formal and informal – to know how to respond to the climate crisis and give priority to groups that are most vulnerable to its effects.

Priority areas for research, knowledge generation, and learning include:

  1. strengthening local government leadership for climate-resilient WASH,

  2. management models for rural water supply,

  3. coping mechanisms for community-based groups, i.e., Water User Committees; and

  4. on-site sanitation emissions (e.g., methane emissions from faecal sludge management technologies).

Banner photo: Masons in Bhutan building an alternating twin pit to ensure that faecal sludge is contained safely and does not seep into the ground. Photo credit: SNV/Tashi Dorji.

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