A weak monsoon this year means little water for crops that are dependent on the abundant rainfall. The increased occurrence of temperature extremes and altered rainfall pattern has resulted in a drinking water shortage and has affected crops mainly in the western and central parts of the country.
According to the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the western part of the country, particularly Thimphu and Paro received rainfall as high as 10 mm in the first week of July, which is comparatively less as last year’s data shows that Thimphu and Paro received 100 mm of rainfall in the same timeframe.
The northern parts like, Gasa and some part of eastern region like, Mongar and Trashigang also received less rainfall. However, the southern region, especially Tsirang, Samtse, Dagana and Gelephu received a good amount of rainfall this year.
In the eastern parts, while Mongar received only 48 mm of rainfall in the month of July, Trashigang received rainfall as high as 64 mm in the same month. Southern parts like, Samtse, Dagana and Tsirang received a good amount of rainfall measured at 164 mm, especially Samtse.
NCHM said, unlike last year, there is less amount of rainfall this year because the moisture feeding from the Bay of Bengal also known as south west monsoon is very weak. There is no wind to push the moisture into the inner Himalayas so most of the rainfall is pushed into the southern belt. This is the reason for warmer summer temperatures in Thimphu and Paro.
NCHM’s official said, “This does not mean that we will receive less rainfall through the monsoon season, we can expect to receive a good amount of rainfall in the following month if the moisture feed becomes stronger.”
As for water shortage in Thimphu, the Thimphu Thromde said, “While water shortage is the major issue in Bhutan, Thimphu residents are facing an acute ongoing water shortage. Other places like, Mongar, Phuentsholing and Wangdu also face water shortage but it is not as bad as in Thimphu. In Thimphu, the problem of water shortage is faced mostly by the residents in Motithang and Jungshina.”
A Thromde official, Nakphel Drukpa, said, “In Thimphu, the water problem is very bad because of the increase in the population as most people are staying in Thimphu, and this year particularly with water sources drying up from less rainfall. Also this year, Thromde also provided additional 361 connections.”
There are four major water treatment plants that supply treated water to different parts of Thimphu, Motithang water treatment plant, Jungshina water treatment plant, Dechencholing water treatment plant and Chamgang water treatment plant.
“Motithang has three water sources and all the three sources are drying up. The water source in Motithang is 7500 cubic meter as of now which has increased from last month but it is still less compared to 9000 cubic meter of last year. The residents of Motithang receives Thromde water supply only twice a day,” said Nakphel Drukpa.
“Chamgang has two water sources. The flow of water in 2015 was 6101 cubic meter in a day, but this year it has reached to 3758 cubic meter,” he said.
He further added, “Jungshina has one source, Samteling stream, and the water from the Samteling stream flows to the BPC tank which then goes to the BPC mini hydel. The water from the mini hydel flows to the Jungshina treatment plant which is catered to the residents of Jungshina.”
“Dechencholing has only one source, Dechencholing stream. And the flow of the water in a day is 5502 cubic meter. The residents in Dechencholing do not face water shortage as there are few number of households in Dechencholing.”
Most farmers in Paro and Chukha are frustrated with the poor yields of the crops resulting from less rainfall. Dokar Gup ,Lhab Dorji, said, “Most of the vegetables in the Thimphu Centenary Farmers’ Market comes from Dokar and Nagya. But due to less rainfall this year, the production is very low and most of the farmers are frustrated with the crops drying up.”
Nagya Gup, Kinlay Wangdi, said, “This year we did not receive much rainfall, and for about two months, we did not receive even a drop of rainfall which affected our crops. For others, like people in Thimphu and Gasa, when such crisis happens, they have other business but we don’t have as we depend solely on farming.”
Chapcha Gup shared similar views. “Due to less rainfall and hot season, most of our vegetables especially potatoes were being destroyed and infected by insects.”
As for the few farmers in Thimphu, they said they are not worried as they have other businesses to fall on.