Clear water roles and responsibilities

Motithang water plant

Water infrastructure in the country looks to get a facelift with the government’s endorsement in principle, the proposal by Ministry of Works and Human Settlements (MoWHS) to clearly delineate roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.

This comes as a timely intervention in the current scene where there are no clear terms of reference for development of water infrastructure in the country which often lead to confusion and overlapping of responsibilities.

MoWHS has submitted a proposal which it calls a long term plan water infrastructure which clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities among various water stakeholders such as Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), Ministry of Health (MoH) and National Environment Commission (NEC).

The letter states that the government welcomed and supported the proposal of long term plan for water infrastructure by MoWHS. It further states that water management could now be executed effectively in a decentralized model. It was deemed necessary that there be a clear delineation among different ministries and agencies.

It is proposed that parks and forest divisions under department of forests and park services (DoFPS) of agriculture ministry will take care of water resources and catchment areas. This responsibility has now been delineated to the right ministry. This is because it has always been the mandate of DoFPS of agriculture ministry to do plantation and afforestation in the barren areas which directly contributes to water resources and catchment areas.

Such activities carried out by DoFPS have direct link to volume of water which is dependent on the forest cover in its catchment. The ministry even has Watershed Management Division which has the sole mandate to manage the watershed areas.

Earlier, both MoAF and MoH had overlapping responsibilities when it came to rural water supply schemes. But it is now made clear, delineating the job of overall planning, implementation and management of rural water scheme to MoWHS. The ministry will undertake all activities related to rural water scheme both in rural and urban areas. The MoAF is now responsible only for water resources and catchment areas.

With many equipment and expertise in place, MoH will continue with the responsibility to carry out water quality surveillance throughout the country. In addition, it will also look after sanitation in rural settlements.

Yet another stakeholder of the water infrastructure, NEC will look after the overall water regulations. It will have no roles in implementation of water infrastructure leaving aside all implementation jobs to other stakeholders.

The MoWHS has accordingly been directed to submit the proposal approved in principle by the government to Gross National Commission for policy clearance, screening and review as required. After having acquired policy clearance, such roles and responsibilities will be incorporated in the 11th five year plan.

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One comment

  1. Considering the water as cross sector issue, i don’t think roles and responsibilities related to water in Bhutan can be take up by just three agencies: Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), Ministry of Health (MoH) and National Environment Commission (NEC).

    Water has wider dimension…what does clear water roles and responsibilities means in terms of what? – water uses, water management, disaster risk management, flood warnings, data collection…. in term of what?

    will this order supersede provisions of Water ACT?

    just thought !!!!!

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