As a least developed, mountainous and landlocked country, Bhutan – and its population and ecosystems – are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Changing weather patterns affect communities in different ways. More intense rains, reduced soil moisture in high altitudes, flash floods and landslides put decades of development efforts at risk, with effects ranging from losses in agricultural production and food insecurity, to water stress and insecurity, climate-related disasters, changes to ecosystems and losses of biodiversity, and impacts on human health. The Government of Bhutan has a strong focus on the environment, climate change and poverty reduction in all operations from planning to implementation; this priority was most recently announced in the guidelines to central and local government agencies for the 11th Five-Year Plan.
The Government of Bhutan has undergone a history of decentralization reforms. In 1981 and 1991, respectively, 20 dzongkhags (districts) and 205 gewogs (blocks) were instituted by royal decree. The role, mandate and capacities of local governments in Bhutan have been significantly strengthened in recent years. Initiated in 2008, the Joint Local Governance Support Programme aims to make finance systems effective and transparent for local government service delivery, while strengthening the central government’s policy, regulatory, supportive and supervisory functions. Its strategy includes assisting local governments in implementing block grants allocated for improving local-level infrastructure and in providing public services, while offering training and capacity development for local personnel and officials. LoCAL is embedded in the Joint Local Governance Support Programme.
Objectives, results and activities
The overall goal of the LoCAL-Bhutan initiative is to improve the resilience of local governments to climate change by increased access to climate change adaptation financing through performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs). The programme’s core objectives are to ensure that dzongkhags and gewogs can accomplish the following:
Five outputs contribute to the achievement of these objectives: (i) an effective and transparent climate change financing mechanism for local governments (dzongkhags and gewogs) through the establishment, further development and testing of a PBCRG system, based on experiences from Phase I; (ii) an inclusive, effective and accountable climate change adaptation planning process designed and integrated in the local development planning process of dzongkhags and gewogs; (iii) development and establishment of an effective and transparent municipal PBCRGs and a climate change adaptation planning process; (iv) an effective capacity development mechanism established to strengthen local government capacities for climate change adaptation; and (v) efficient, effective and transparent implementation of climate change adaptation activities by participating local governments through the PBCRG system.
Adaptation measures and investments
Since 2012, a total of 104 small-scale investments have been realized in the six dzongkhags targeted with PBCRGs. Among the core adaptation priorities financed are the following:
Country Population: 753 947
Number of districts (Dzongkhags) : 20
Phase I : 2011 – 2014 (USD 620 000)
Phase II : from 2014 (USD 4,4 million)
Lead government partners:
Gross National Happiness Commission
Other government partners:
Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs; Ministry of Finance
LoCAL donors and in-country development partners:
European Union Global Climate Change Alliance; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative
Government of Bhutan
Mr. Wangdi Gyeltshen, [title?] Department of Local Governance, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, [email?]
Ms. Tandin Wangmo, Senior Programme Coordinator, Gross National Happiness Commission, [email?]
Ms. Tshering Lham Yanki, Programme Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Fakri Karim, LoCAL Programme Manager, email@example.com
LoCAL-Bhutan in figures