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Rain water harvesting changes rural livelihoods.

Forty-four-year-old GoreyMaya from Gangtokhavillage of Barshong gewog inTsirang used to walk morethan two kilometers fromher house to a spring watersource to fetch water fordaily consumption every day.However, she couldcarry only 20 liters whichwas insufficient for thewhole household's dailyconsumption.But now she need nothave to carry water any more.With the introductionof rain water harvestingtechnique, the womenof the gewog have notonly got access to enoughdrinking water, they haveextra to grow vegetables forcommercial purpose.Rain water harvestingtechnology is implementedusing silpaulin sheet of300gsm (gram per sq meter)to store and collect rain fromrooftops so that it can beused during dry season foragriculture purpose.Various sizes are beingused and as standard size,4.6m length with 2.7mbreadth and 1.2m depthisparticularly used in Tsirang.For Barshong gewog,8m*6m is the largest onewhich has a capacity to hold25,000l of water.Currently, 60 householdsuse this technology.

It was funded by EuropeanUnion (EU) managedby International Centerfor Integrated MountainDevelopment (ICIMOD)based in Katmandu, Nepal.

The ICIMOD-fundedHimalica Project investedover US$555mn to enhancerural livelihood of thegewog.

The farmers in thegewog harvest rainwater forirrigation and agriculture.Gorey Maya, mother ofthree children, said theirs isthe only household in thevillage with a concrete tankfor storing water.With this water storage,now Gorey can use it forvarious purposes includingagriculture, feedingcattle and sometimes forconsumption purpose whenthere is no tap water.She said that rainfallis becoming erratic andunpredictable, natural pondsare drying up and springwater too and farming isbecoming difficult by theyear.

'With this technique ourlife has become much easier.We can produce vegetablestwo times in a year,' saidGorey.Standing beside herwater tank, Gorey explainsthat the water is being storedin the tank from overflow ofwater tank which suppliesto the village, located justabove her house. Shealso mentioned that shenever wastes tap water andwhenever it is not in usestores it in the tank.Now she is happy thatshe can earn more income byselling vegetables grown withthe help of rain water. Withthe money she earned, shecould buy a power tiller andrice and maize mill.She said that her farmingtechnique has also improvedand she is concentrating oncommercial farming.Gorey Maya earns Nu80,000 to Nu 90,000 annuallywhereas earlier she couldonly earn around Nu 10,000to Nu 15, 000 annually fromselling vegetables.Her family is now evenplanning to construct atraditional Bhutanese house.Similarly, Deki Wangmo,42, from Barshong Toedvillage said before there wasscarcity of drinking water aswell as irrigation water.

'Therain water harvesting projecthas helped us a lot.'Before she used to fetchwater in a bucket and pour iton the vegetables. However,she now can directly waterthe vegetables from the tank,connecting a pipe from thetank and placing the watersprinkle in the middle of thefield.Deki Wangmo hastwo rain water harvestingponds since she cultivatesvegetables on a large scale.Vendors buy vegetableproduce from theirdoorsteps and sell inThimphu and Gelephu.Indra Maya Mongar,another 42-year-old fromChuneykhag village saidbefore there was no source ofincome for the family. Theycould only grow vegetablesfor personal consumptionand they grew crops likemaize and millet which is lesswater intensive.But now they have shiftedto commercial farming ofvegetables and in a year shecan also grow vegetables twoto three times and sell it tothe vendors who come tocollect it at their place daily.She said the stored wateris used to feed cattle andwater the vegetables whenthere is no rainfall.

'During the vegetableseason, I sell a full boleroof produce every week,' shesaid.Indra also mentionedthat their living standard hasimproved drastically.

'Before women in thevillage were confined to thekitchens but now womenhave become financially andphysically independent,' shesaid.

The Mangmi, ChandraBdr Mongar said that nowpeople have shifted tovegetable cultivation frommaize.He said after the rainwater harvesting projectwas implemented, everyhousehold started cultivatingvegetables on around 15to 20 decimal land.

'Livingstandard of the people hasimproved and the womenespecially have come forwardto cultivate vegetables,' saidthe Mangmi.

The DzongkhagAgriculture Officer (DAO)of Tsirang, Dorji Gyeltshensaid the project has helpedhouseholds save time todedicate to other householdchores and improved incomewith increased productionof vegetables.

'It has alsohelped rear livestock and thesurroundings are clean.''Rainwater harvestingcan also improve microclimate and ecosystem,besides recharging soil waterfor use of stored water in theplastic pond,' he said.

The DAO also saidthat drying up of watersources cannot be directlypinpointed to climatechange but looking at theclimate pattern it is themain cause. According tohim, erratic rainfall andprolonged drought haveaffected the recharge ofground water.He added there is needto have a good researchsystem, so that climateresilient varieties of cropsand technologies can begrown.

The Gewog AgricultureExtension Supervisor,Sonam Tshering saidthe project has broughtimportant changes in thelife of farmers includingeconomic development ofrural livelihoods.

'It comeswith some challenges likebreeding ponds and tanksbecoming a breeding centerfor mosquitoes in the loweraltitude.'Barshong farmers mainlyfocus on high-value cropslike beans, cabbage, onion,chilli, broccoli, cauliflower,tomato and pulses, apartfrom maize and paddy beingstaple food.The gewog has allocatedNu 0.5mn for agricultureand livestock throughgovernment budget forfinancial year 2018-19.

The funds will be used to supplyquality seeds and seedlingsand to train farmers.

The gewog was sensitizedabout the project in 2014and it was implemented frommid-2015.

The project will beclosed this year.

The ICIMOD incollaboration with theLocal Government inTsirang conducted a rapidscenario assessment ofwater including availability,consumption patternsand demand, and watermanagement practices inthe five chiwogs of BarshongGewog in October 2015.Barshong is located inthe western part of Tsirangand has an area of 21.2 sqkm and is one of the smallestof the 12 gewogs in Tsirang.The altitude ranges from 700to 1,500m above sea level.Approximately 52.83% ofthe land area is under forestcover comprising mainlybroad-leaf.

The gewog has atotal of 575.24 acres of dryland, 254.6 acres of wet land,57.25 acres of orchards and9.8 acres of cardamom.The gewog has fivechiwogs namely BarshongToed, Barshong Maed,Gangtokha, Chunnykhangand Toisang.

The gewog has 330households with a totalpopulation of more than2,400 people.
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Publication:Business Bhutan (Thimphu, Bhutan)
Geographic Code:9BHUT
Date:Apr 20, 2019
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