15,638 applications were received between 16 January and 20 March 2022
The livelihoods of most people in Bhutan are impacted by the pandemic. Most lacked the financial means to pay their house rent or purchase the basic necessities. This is when The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu arrived, and helped the people to renew their hopes and survive through the difficult times.
According to the press release issued by the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) Office, DGRK has provided income support Kidu to 54,783 individuals from 14 April 2020 till date. All of these individuals have received Kidu at least once over the past 23 months.
Monthly child support Kidu was provided to around 7,000 children of the applicants. As of February 2022, Nu 4,163.33 million (mn) has been disbursed.
A one-time special Kidu of Nu 84.04 mn was also granted to 2,555 households living in Phuentsholing during the longest lockdown in 2021 and Nu 17.03 mn to 675 Bhutanese working the Gulf countries in September 2020.
On average, 11 applications were received daily till December 2021, which had dropped to 3 applicants daily in the month of January 2022, just before the lockdown.
However, since the lockdown was announced, the number of applications has increased dramatically. 15,638 applications were received between 16 January and 20 March 2022 of which 8,132 (52 percent) are first time applicants.
Most of the recent applications were from restaurant and food services, retail and transportation followed by the construction sector.
98 percent of the applicants are currently living in the dzongkhags affected by COVID-19. A significant number of applications were received from those living in Thimphu, Sarpang, Paro, Chukha, and Wangduephodrang.
Provision of ration support has been initiated to all distressed households in all the affected dzongkhags.
As per the press release, since August 2020, DGRK has also provided ration support to households in need of immediate aid during the lockdowns. Between 16 January and 20 March 2022, a total of 1,033 households received the support. A majority of the recipients live in Wangduephodrang, Thimphu, Punakha and Sarpang.
DGRK is disbursed directly into the recipients’ bank accounts. For unbanked recipients, the Dzongkhag Kidu Officers have delivered the DGRK amount in cash.
Stories from beneficiaries
The majority of beneficiaries said that the Kidu assistance benefited them, which was most useful during the lockdown.
A tour guide, Karma Wangchuk, 28, residing in Paro said that the Kidu support is very useful in such an unexpected event.
“The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu has been extremely beneficial to me and my family in maintaining our daily lifestyle. I don’t have to be concerned about being deprived of basic necessities during the lockdown,” he said.
He further said, “When there is no lockdown, we can generate money from modest part-time businesses and manage, if there no Kidu help during the lockdown, we would suffer. So, it has helped the people working in the tourism industry a lot.”
An oversees returnee, Jigme Yuden, 24, said that she consider herself fortunate to have the Kidu assistance from His Majesty since it gives her a sense of security to live her life.
“I am able to pay my rent and purchase groceries with the money I receive. And, with the Kidu money, I’m able to buy the essentials I need while remaining tranquil,” she said.
Tshomo, 23, a laid off employee of a hotel in Thimphu also said, “I feel at ease during this lockdown since I don’t have to worry about buying my essential needs or paying my rent. I’ve used the Kidu money to pay my rent and to purchase basic necessities. I no longer need to borrow money from family or friends.”
Karma Deki,25, said, “I’ve been looking for work since my last job was impeded by COVID-19, but it’s difficult to get one because I don’t have a higher qualification. Kidu has been a tremendous support to me and my family, and it is assisting us through this lockdown a lot. My family and I would have suffered greatly if I had not received kidu.”
Gyeltshen, 29, a momo vendor, said he applied for the Kidu again since there is no business during the lockdown. He stated that he was hesitant to apply but that he had no alternative because he had no other source of income.
“There is no business at the time, and to survive myself throughout the lockdown period, I had to apply, and it is assisting me to live like any other individual living in the city. I am touched and truly thankful, from the bottom of my heart, to my King for the assistance,” he said.
“I am a daily wage earner, and I was unable to go to work owing to the lockdown and travel restrictions imposed. When you don’t go to work for more than a month as a daily wage employee, it becomes difficult to sustain your livelihood,” said Dorji, 35-year-old man in Thimphu who received ration Kidu.
He said, “I was given the necessities. I am extremely grateful to His Majesty for his assistance; without it, I would have died of starvation.”
The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu was launched on 14 April 2020. Countless affected people have been supported by the Kidu, who otherwise would either have been unpaid or forced to retreat back to their villages.