Bhutan News

    Highlanders say law needed to tackle territorial disputes among Cordycep collectors

    Posted 19 October 2017 | 11:57 am

    Highlanders from Wangdue Phodrang, Haa, and Bumthang dzongkhags requested the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests to formulate a concrete law to address the issue of territorial disputes among the Cordecep collectors. This was put up during a consultative meeting in Thimphu yesterday.

    The highlanders said people from all parts of the country visit their Cordecep grown areas which they depend for their livelihoods.

    “Cordyceps are grown in different places with different timings of growing stage. However, without adequate security personnel, people from elsewhere enter our territory,” said one of the highlanders from Saephu Gewog in Wangdue Phodrang, Sithup. “So we when go to guard our territory, we hire people to look after our houses. Sometimes our food kept in caves is stolen and when we approach concerned officials, there is no distinct law to deal with the issue.”

    However, the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji assured the highlanders that the ministry is very much aware of the issue and is exploring all possible means to address it.

    “We understand how people are dependent on Cordyceps. So to curb these issues, the ministry is continuously working to find a solution. We will try our best to help highlanders pick up Cordyceps from their town territory,” affirmed the minister.

    Some of the highlanders also requested the government to allow licensed highlanders to collect the fungus from any highlands in the country. During the day-long consultative meeting, Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay said highlanders living on the northern frontiers have a critical responsibility in the security of the borders. More than 350 highlanders from 10 dzongkhags  attended the meeting.


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    ECCD centres for children of road workers

    Posted 19 October 2017 | 11:55 am

    Kamal Rai waits for his mother to finish work

    Six-year-old Kamal Rai spends his day on the roadsides every day. The little boy does this not out of choice but because he has no choice. Komal’s mother, Urmila Rai, is a road worker.

    Kamal sits by the roadside playing as his mother works all day long. But Kamal is not alone. While there is no statistics available on the number of the children of road workers,  there are thought to be hundreds of them.

    Given a choice, these national force workers would like their children to be in a place better than the roadside. A childcare centre, for instance. “There is no one home home to look after the kids,” said Pabitra, a worker with the Lobesa Regional Camp.

    “We don’t get time to interact with the kids,” said Chali Maya Gurung, another worker with the Lobesa Regional Camp.

    “If there is a centre, it will be very beneficial for us. There will be people to care for our children at the centres. We can always go and pick them in the evening after work. If they start learning at an early stage, it will help them learn better as they grow.”

    A study found roadside workers and their children to be one of the most vulnerable sections of the society. The parents work in harsh environment and their children grow up in the same environment and are deprived of proper nutrition, health care, growth stimulation and interaction. The study states such conditions in the early formation years can have adverse impacts on these children’s physical and mental health.

    Apart from issues related to the growth and development of the children, there is also the issue of safety, which is no less a concern.

    “It’s very difficult when we have to work carrying our babies because they are exposed to so much dust and there are also chances of road fatalities,” said Sancha Maya Tamang, a roadside worker based in Garpang in Bumthang.

    “We have to keep moving from one place to another and it is challenging when you have your children accompanying you,” said Gopal Singh, also a worker based in Garpang, Bumthang.

    “There are risks of children getting hit by cars. We cannot take care of them properly. We have to work in dust and the children fall ill.  They learn nothing and it’s natural that they will end up like us.”

    “It is difficult for both children and parents, especially mothers,’ said Surja Raj, a Supervisor of the Geytsa camp in Bumthang.

    “It would be very helpful if there are ECCD centres where we can send our children during the day.”

    Their wish does not seem far fetched. That’s because the works and human settlement ministry is planning to establish 12 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres at 12 strategic camps along the north-east-west highway.

    The prime minister, at the Meet the Press session last Friday, shared that the first strategic camp along with an ECCD centre will be set up soon. “We will see how that camp operates and how the ECCD in that camp operates and, then hopefully, in the next year or so, we would have established all 12 camps and with them 12 ECCDs,” said Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay.

    In 2013, the Save the Children country office and education ministry carried out a feasibility study for ECCD programmes for the children of road workers. Based on a number of findings, the study recommended the Department of Roads of the works and human settlement ministry to establish ECCD centres.

    The study also suggested a need for parenting education for the road workers to create awareness on the importance of the role of parents in the overall development of a child.

    Research has proven that brain development is very rapid in the early years. But the Save the Children study states that workers are not aware of the importance of interaction and communication in stimulating early learning. They are also found to have very little knowledge about the benefits of different food and dietary requirements of a growing child.

    Today, there are 2,234 national workforce workers across the country working under nine regional offices of the Department of Roads.

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    Respite for water-scarce chiwog in Pema Gatshel

    Posted 19 October 2017 | 11:54 am

    The tale of water shortage in Dechhenling-Goenpawoong Chiwog of Dechhenling Gewog is not new. The chiwog’s water crisis mainly stems from its location.

    The chiwog lies on a hilltop with no natural water sources nearby. “Our chiwog sits on a hilltop, while all water sources are in the valleys,” said Samten Tshewang, the Tshogpa of Dechhenling-Goenpawoong Chiwog.

    “The livestock officials want us to rear cattle and start piggery farms but we don’t even have enough water for drinking and washing.”

    However, the problem is likely to be solved for good soon. That’s because a water pump is being built in the chiwog to pump water. It is being constructed at a cost of over Nu 10 m and is expected to be ready by February next year.

    This is not the first time the government tried to solve the chiwog’s water shortage. Earlier, the chiwog was supplied water from a faraway source but it didn’t work out well. The authorities as well as the villagers are now pinning their hopes on the water pump.

    The people in the chiwog are looking forward to having access to an uninterrupted drinking water supply.  “We have come a long way,” says Sangay Dem from Bata, a village under the chiwog that depends on a private water source.

    “In the past, we had to walk long distances to fetch drinking water.”

    It was only later that the villagers of Bata found the temporary source from which they currently drink. They chipped in money to tap water from that private source. “Every household contributed Nu 5,000 for it,” shared Yeshi Jamtsho, another villager.

    But the source is not very reliable. “When it rains continuously, pipes break and we have to keep on maintaining it,” said Yeshi Jamtsho.

    The new water pump will benefit about 20o households in the chiwog.

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