While we always talk about urban waste management problems there are long standing waste management issues in rural Bhutan that are neglected.
While there are comparatively more facilities and even data concerning urban waste management issues, there are less number of agencies and people concerned about rural waste management issue or even working on it.
This is when rural waste management is becoming a nationwide issue with plastic and junk finding its way not only into villages but also water sources, sacred sites and until recently pristine forests.
Waste management in rural Bhutan is a largely primitive exercise with the digging of pits where waste is kept and also burnt.
Bjee Gewog Gup under Haa Dzonkhag, Ugyen said,”People in our locality dig pits near their house and they dump their waste in it, those waste are burned when pits are filled with it.”
“To solve the waste issue, we tell our Tshogpas to create awareness on waste management and we let people collect renewable waste,” he added.
Kurtoe Gewog Gup, Ugyen Tshering said, in terms of waste management, they co-ordinate among different Chiwogs and work towards it.
“There is some sort of support from the health sector concerning hygiene and sanitation of the people but the government must also look into such waste management matters in rural areas,” said the Gup.
Currently he said that the Gewog asks people to dig two pits and to report it to the Gewog after doing so. The Gewog administration then goes for monthly checking at the end of every month to see whether they did it or not and if people didn’t do so they are asked to do so again.
Yalang Gewog , Gup Chosung Wangdi under Trashiyangtze Dzongkhagsaid, “Currently the five Gewogs that we have are facing the problem of not having proper place to dump waste.”
Since two years ago the representatives of five Gewogs including the business community and government sector discussed on finding proper places to dump waste but the proper places could not be resolved.
“Since we do not have other options left, we ask people of these Gewogs to dig pits and to properly dump in it and burn when it is filled,” said Gup Wangdi.
Similarly, Ura Gewog, Gup Dorji Wangchuk said that every month on the 15 day of the month, the Gewog collects waste from the people but they face problems of not having a waste collection vehicle.
“On the 15 February 2016, we have decided to sell those renewable wastes to Druk Ngojang Tshogpa,” added the Gup.
With Ura Gewog being 50 Kilometers away from main town, the transportation charges alone cost about Nu 4000 to 5000 per trip.
The Gup tried to seek support from Gross National Happiness Commission, National Environment Commission, UNICEF and concerned agencies but there has been no sign of support from those agencies and it has been almost two years that he has been looking for support.
“With the support from the Druk Ngojang Tshogpa, I am expecting that my Gewog will look much cleaner than what it is today and being one of the tourist destinations we need support from the government or any related agencies responsible for a clean Bhutan,” he added.
This article was made possible due to support from the Department of Information and Media