Bhutan: Water Flagship Program Sector Project
The project will provide safe, sustainable and inclusive drinking water, and irrigation services to about 100,000 people who suffer from water insecurity in Thimphu and Gelephu municipalities (Thromdes) and Chhukha, Wangdue Phodrang, Zhemgang and Mongar districts (Dzongkhag) of Bhutan. It will adopt disaster- and climate-resilient designs and improve institutional and local communities' capacity for sustainable drinking water and irrigation services.
Di Mario, Luca
South Asia Department
Request for information
- Water and other urban infrastructure and services
|Project Name||Water Flagship Program Sector Project|
|Project Type / Modality of Assistance||Grant
|Source of Funding / Amount||
|Strategic Agendas||Environmentally sustainable growth
Inclusive economic growth
|Drivers of Change||Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Governance and capacity development
|Sector / Subsector||
Agriculture, natural resources and rural development / Irrigation - Rural water supply services
Water and other urban infrastructure and services / Urban water supply
|Gender Equity and Mainstreaming||Effective gender mainstreaming|
|Description||The project will provide safe, sustainable and inclusive drinking water, and irrigation services to about 100,000 people who suffer from water insecurity in Thimphu and Gelephu municipalities (Thromdes) and Chhukha, Wangdue Phodrang, Zhemgang and Mongar districts (Dzongkhag) of Bhutan. It will adopt disaster- and climate-resilient designs and improve institutional and local communities' capacity for sustainable drinking water and irrigation services.|
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy||
Bhutan has the highest per capita freshwater availability in South Asia. However, the country is confronted with localized and seasonal water shortages for drinking and agricultural purposes because of its topography (steep mountains and deep valleys), insufficient infrastructure, and limited capacity for sustainable service delivery. Although 97.2% of the country's population (757,042 people) is served by basic drinking water services, access to safe and reliable (safely managed) drinking water remains a challenge for most people in rural and urban areas. Water supply is mostly intermittent, often ranging from 4 to 12 hours per day, and not reliable for 18.4% of households. Only 36.2% of Bhutan's population is served by water that is reported as free from contamination. Irrigation services coverage is limited to 32% of irrigable land, mostly designed for paddy cultivation, and a third of existing irrigation systems have scarce or inadequate water supply. As a result, people in rural and urban Bhutan, especially women and the poor, sacrifice productive time collecting water and/or coping with water-borne diseases. Farmers' income is constrained by no or limited irrigation services, which lowers agricultural productivity.
Water infrastructure development in Bhutan has not coped with the level of population growth (1.3% per annum between 2005 and 2017) and urbanization (37.8%), and is insufficient to fulfill the current service demand in rural villages, district towns, and city areas. Underdeveloped drinking water and irrigation infrastructure leaves pockets of rural population to rely on unreliable drinking water services (20.2% of rural households) and rainfed agriculture. Peri-urban areas of cities (e.g., in the national capital Thimphu) and towns (e.g. Bajo, Gedu, Tshimasham and Zhemgang) are still served by old community or rural water supply schemes (RWSS), which are poorly functional, unreliable, and do not have sufficient capacity to provide sustainable services to current and future population. These schemes are also characterized by poor drinking water quality because of insufficient treatment infrastructure and water and sanitation safety planning. Gelephu city and towns such as Mongar rely on water sources such as infiltration galleries or small streams, which are at risk from washing off during monsoons and drying up in winter. Nonrevenue water is estimated to be 30%-55% in urban centers due to aging infrastructure, and poor operation and maintenance (O&M) and demand management. Thimphu's core area distribution network is worn out with high physical losses water and almost no metering in certain areas.
The project will (i) establish and/or rehabilitate drinking water and irrigation infrastructure and make it disaster- and climate-resilient, (ii) strengthen the capacity and awareness of institutions and local communities in safe, sustainable and resilient water management and sanitation, and (iii) establish climate smart water management system
(i) Sustainable water achieved (Twelfth Five-Year Plan 2018-2023 - National Key Result Area 17)
(ii) Food self-sufficiency and nutrition security enhanced (Twelfth Five Year Plan 2018-2023 - National Key Result Area 8)
|Outcome||Access to safe, efficient, reliable, sustainable and inclusive drinking water and irrigation services improved in the project area|
Disaster- and climate-resilient drinking water supply and irrigation infrastructure developed and/or upgraded
Capacity and awareness of institutions and local communities in safe, sustainable and climate-resilient water management and sanitation strengthened
Climate smart water management system established
|Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects|
|Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation|
|During Project Design|
|During Project Implementation|
|Consulting Services||A project management unit (PMU) will be established in the Department of Engineering Services (Water and Sanitation Division) of the MOWHS for overall project management and will include staff from MOAF for irrigation subprojects design and implementation. A project implementation unit in each district and municipality will conduct procurement and be responsible for subproject implementation at the local level with support from PMU.|
|Procurement||A project management unit (PMU) will be established in the Department of Engineering Services (Water and Sanitation Division) of the MOWHS for overall project management and will include staff from MOAF for irrigation subprojects design and implementation. A project implementation unit in each district and municipality will conduct procurement and be responsible for subproject implementation at the local level with support from PMU.|
|Responsible ADB Officer||Di Mario, Luca|
|Responsible ADB Department||South Asia Department|
|Responsible ADB Division||Urban Development and Water Division, SARD|
Department of Engineering Services (DES)
Ministry of Works & Human Settlement
Drentoen Lam, Thimphu Bhutan
|Concept Clearance||03 Dec 2020|
|Fact Finding||20 Sep 2021 to 24 Sep 2021|
|MRM||10 Dec 2021|
|Last Review Mission||-|
|Last PDS Update||03 Dec 2020|
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|Title||Document Type||Document Date|
|Water Flagship Program Sector Project: Initial Poverty and Social Analysis||Initial Poverty and Social Analysis||Dec 2020|
Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards
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Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation
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