Bhutan is known for highest per capita fresh water availability in the region with 101, 959.70 cubic meters of available fresh water. Bhutan ranks 6th in the world in per capita fresh water availability and neighboring countries are trailing far behind with India and Nepal ranked at 127th (1116.35 cu.m) and 146th (660.06 cu.m) position in the world respectively. I referred this data in FAO web-page, which was obtained from Aquastat. While, we can boast of having one of the highest per capita fresh water availability in the world, it is also about time to critically think why Bhutanese are devoid of safe and adequate drinking water let alone irrigation water. Of-late I was attending Bhutan’s 2nd National Water Symposium and realized that we have many agencies responsible for different water related programs. For instance we have designated agency responsible for:
- urban water supply;
- irrigation water;
- watershed management;
- water sanitation and safety;
- municipalities; and
This being said, our people are prone to water crises to the extent of water conflicts within the communities and individuals. About a decade back when Changjiji complex was newly constructed, one of my maternal uncles shifted to live in one of the new residential building there. The biggest problem was water, but I was not surprised as things were just being put in place and agencies were still working on it. Fast forward to 17th May 2017, Changjiji housing complex still faces acute shortage of drinking water, as the water comes to houses only once in the morning and if you miss to fill in the empty buckets, then you have it. This always makes me to question myself on our water supply mechanisms. Is it that we don’t have water sources within the proximity of area or is it that our water supply services scheme is flawed? The biggest issue I have is: Thim chhu is only about 50 meters from the settlement and municipalities should have already made use of that water. I can understand that Thim chhu may not be safe but it can be made safer after following various treatment procedures. If at-all Thim chhu is deemed not fit for human consumption, it is about time to identify one perennial water source and invest in good water by the municipal office. I believe that following should be the immediate task which the municipal office should carry out:
- the responsibility of bringing safe and adequate water to all settlements in
Thimphu should be handled only by Thimphu municipal office;
- undertake detail water source assessment; and
- out-source the water supply scheme to private companies and make the private companies responsible for water supply – closely monitored by municipal office.
It is about time that being located in the third pole of the world, our people have access to safe and adequate drinking water. I would go to the extent of suggesting that, Thimphu municipal office’s priority for the next two years should purely be on bringing water to all homes in Thimphu. Let’s work to keep our citizens happy before our fresh water availability remains just another beautiful story.