Zhemgang is considered as one of the poorest dzongkhags in the country.
The total population of Zhemgang dzongkhag as of 30 May 2017 according to the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) 2017 is 17, 763 persons. Of the total 17, 763 persons, 9, 195 persons are male and 8, 568 are female. The total population of Zhemgang dzongkhag represents 2.4 per cent of total population of Bhutan.
According to PHCB, although most household in Zhemgang use electricity and LPG as main source of energy for cooking, in rural areas, more than four in ten household (47.4 per cent) uses firewood for cooking.
There are more households who have access to safe and reliable water supply for drinking, however, some household in rural areas reported using unprotected well, spring, river, stream, pond and dam water as their main source of drinking water. Ngangla gewog has highest households without access to improved drinking water sources.
Majority of households have access to the nearest road head in less than 30 minutes but there are some household in Dzongkhag that still need to travel for more than 6 hours to reach the nearest road point.
Zhemgang Dzongda, Lobzang Dorji said, “Access to improved road and water supply for drinking and irrigation and human wildlife conflict are some of the major issues in the dzongkhag”.
From Bardo gewog, the Bardo gup said, “Access to improved road is the biggest challenge. Most of the roads deteriorate during monsoon and are damaged by heavy rainfall making it difficult vehicles to ply on them.”
He said, “Marketing of agriculture produce is another problem. Although people in Zhemgang are extensively engaged in cultivation of varieties of crops, there is no access to market due to poor road conditions”.
Ngangla Gup said, “In Ngangla gewog, the pressing issue is water shortage of both drinking and irrigation and if this problem is not solved, the problem shall become even more severe in future”.Namgay from Panbang said, “There are many issues but one of the most commonly faced problem by people here is access to road and market. Human wildlife conflict is also common, as crops we produce are being damaged by animals like wild boar, deer and monkey among others. We have to guard our crops every night without sleeping and animal attack is becoming more rampant these days.”
Sonam Dorji, 42 from Bardo said, “We are frustrated with poor road condition. Any party who will form the government this year should improve the basic facilities like road, electricity and water supply.”
All the candidates from political parties said the basic amenities like access to road, water supply and connectivity are the major issues faced by the people in rural areas.
Incumbent Leki Dorji from People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from Bardo-Trong constituency said, “Major challenges facing the majority of my constituency are basic, reliable farm road, access to market for extra farm produce and human wildlife conflict.”
He said, “People in my constituency are well aware of the election and its importance to their lives and their future. Many people say they make their own decision about voting and they say election pledges are important.”
Sonam Leki from Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) from the same constituency said, “Access to road and water supply and poor network coverage are major issues. Improving rural lives by providing 100 per cent water supply for both drinking and irrigation and improved road condition is mentioned in our manifesto”.
He said, “There are good number of registered voters but the turnout is very poor.”
PDP candidate from Panbang constituency Lungten Dorji said, “Zhemgang dzongkhag is the least developed dzongkhag in Bhutan and people need to know that any party that forms the government can do so much for the people and so people should vote for the right party.”
DNT candidate from Panbang, Tshering said, “Panbang town remains as an unresolved issue and is rated as failed promises of the past two governments. They have not been able to develop the existing town, forget about building a new town. Lands have been identified and surveyed, land owners have been restricted to build houses or cultivate crops. What can be done next is left to the new government.”
He said, “There is inadequate drinking water supply in many villages and unstable and frequent disruption of power supply in a hot place like ours is intolerable. Mobile and internet facilities are either very poor or not at all available in many villages and there is need to provide 3G connectivity in most of the villages.”
Zhemgang dzongkhag has a total of 18, 576 registered voters out of which 9165 is male and 9402 is female. Bardo Trong constituency has 10, 789 registered voters with 5316 males and 5473 females. There are 7778 registered voters in Panbang out of which 3849 are males and 3929 are females.