Water shortage: Slow death of rural communities

Water shortage: Slow death of rural communities

SAM Staff,
Water shortage: Slow death of rural communities

It’s been more than a year seventy-six-year-old Tshering has been begging water from her neighbour. The muddy pond at Dhampheyjuk that served as the main source dried completely.

And now her benefactor has stopped giving her water. Tshering has only to rely on rainwater to drink and wash.

There are 81 households in Laptsakha chiwog in Talo, Punakha. The residents have been severely hit by an acute drinking water shortage. The situation became worse after the Dhampheyjuk pond dried up.

Until 2015, the pond was the ultimate source of water for the 13 households of Gungthramo village. There is now not a trace of pond to be found in Dhampheyjuk.

Tshering said: “Streams and springs are drying every year. I don’t understand why they disappear. Maybe the nature must be cursing us for some wrong we’ve done.”

For miles, there is not a single water source.

Tshering, mother of eight, goes out with aluminum bowl whenever there is rain.

“If there is no rain there is no water,” she said.

What would happen in winter when there is no rain?

According to the National Health Survey reports of 2012, 97.7 percent of the Bhutanese have access to piped drinking water. Here, though, water do not run through the taps.

The villagers have resorted to collecting rainwater in jerry cans, artificial ponds, sintexs and wells. This method does not look safe and healthy.

Talo Gup Dorji Wangchuk is worried about drying water sources.

Drinking water shortage has hit many communities across the country. At Shumar gewog in Pemagatshel, close to a thousand people are sharing water from a few seasonal springs. Gamung and Gonpung villages have no fixed water sources. The villagers collect water from temporary springs that hold water in summer when there is rain. The sources disappear in winter.

The dzongkhag is studying the possibility of pumping in water from Changche Yejuk, a rivulet that runs below the villages. It is costly.

According to a study done by Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conversation and Environment Research, springs such as Bartshang, Drupchhu, Nuputsho, Kumshingree and Demnangree have completely disappeared.

Climate change, in addition to increasing anthropogenic activities, could impact both quality and quantity of water because climate change in the region is occurring at higher elevation. Untimely rainfall, extreme heat, flooding, landslide and windstorm have become common.

The report says that although Bhutan is endowed with abundant water, seasonal and local water scarcity for drinking and agriculture have been observed due to extreme weather events.