Natural Disasters

For a long time, the world talked about climate change as something that would be in the future decades down the line once certain temperatures are crossed or carbon in the atmosphere reaches a certain limit.

However, the reality is that climate change is already happening and its impacts are only getting harsher by the day.

Many Bhutanese woke up to see the tremendous destruction that the heavy rains caused in Phuentsholing and Gelephu while luckily there were no casualties.

Road networks were snapped across the country.

Before that the late arrival of the monsoon and poor rainfall has meant that our chilli harvest is much lesser which is why prices are still so high when there should be a glut and a reduction in prices.

The poor rainfall also meant shortage of drinking and irrigation water all over Bhutan including in Thimphu Thromde.

The impact of climate change is India also means that we are paying much more for tomatoes.

The tragedy of the flashflood in Lhuentse that washed away 23 people only underscores how vulnerable Bhutan is to climate change.

As a small and a carbon neutral country, we are a victim of the pollution by others.

In such tough times, internally,we must ensure that our 13th plan’s various activities are climate resilient. For example, when we build roads we have to take into account heavier rainfall or when we build infrastructure we must make sure it is not in a vulnerable area. 

Our settlements near rivers and streams have to be better prepared for bigger floods and other surprises that may come up overnight. Disaster drills and preparation is a must in all Dzongkhags for vulnerable communities.

Externally, we have to leverage our green status to raise funds or even do carbon trading. A good start has been made with the Singapore government.

These funds will help us to adapt to climate change.

The mistake in Lhuentse was trusting a small stream to not do damage and so going forward we need to be much more cautious in our planning.

I’d probably go Green because I am really worried about climate change and the planet.
Kathy Burke

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