September 23, 2017

Can Himalayan Hydro Power Bring Water Cooperation?

A river on Nepal-India border. (Photo by rajkumar1220, Creative Commons License)

Considering how often the fear of looming water wars is perpetuated in the media and blogosphere, you would be forgiven for not knowing that 2013 is the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. But cooperation is not merely the absence of conflict, and indeed conflict and cooperation coexist in every relationship, be it between individuals or states managing trans-boundary ... Read More »

Bhutan’s Stateless Population Waiting for the King

(Photo by Carsten ten Brink, Creative Commons License)

There had been a minor celebration that afternoon at Raj’s house in central Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. A few relatives had gathered to eat cake together – the remains on small plates were still visible in the kitchen when I joined them for dinner in the evening. The reason for their shared joy was a small, off-white card, resembling ... Read More »

Bhutan’s Paddy Crop Victim of Climate Change?

Paddy crop destroyed by rains in Bhutan. (Photo via Kuensel Online)

The forces of nature have overwhelmed some farmers in western Bhutan.  Within one week, their hope of a good harvest was turned into despair as the clear skies at the beginning of the week gave way to heavy rains last night (October 14). Farmers were so close to reap the fruit of a year round hard work, when they laid ... Read More »

Why Free Electricity for Bhutan’s Rural Poor?

The rivers of Bhutan provide much of the GDP of the country, generating electricity for sale to India. Bhutan is a net exporter of electricity thanks to hydropower. In a country where remote communities are still heavily reliant on firewood for heating and cooking, rural electrification is a key development goal. What doesn't help is the fact that Bhutan is heavily mountainous and rural access to roads is still a challenge. (Photo by Michael Foley, Creative Commons License)

The government, during its monthly meeting with the local media recently, said it is exploring the possibility of providing 100 units of electricity for free to the rural poor. It is also studying the possibility of providing partial or full subsidy on electrical appliances such as rice cooker, curry cooker and water boilers to the same section of the population.  ... Read More »

Getting Grip on Poverty in Bhutan

Drukgyal Dzong was a fortress and monastery in the Paro valley in Bhutan built around 1650, but has been in ruins since a fire in 1951. (Photo by Simon Pascoe, Creative Commons License)

The new government will be addressing poverty in Bhutan with a different and a broader approach. This is a welcome initiative given that poverty reduction has been the central theme for the last many years and yet we still have a significant number of people under the poverty line. Going by the 11th Plan report presented in the National Assembly, ... Read More »