13 April 2017, Thimphu: Yesterday, the Royal Government of Bhutan and the European Union (EU) launched a new EUR 21.5 million Rural Development and Climate Change Response Programme to support sustainable agricultural development and climate change adaptation in Bhutan.
The project was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay with Dr. Johann Hesse, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation for Bhutan, based in New Delhi, India.
The project’s main objective is to assist the Royal Government of Bhutan with the implementation of reforms that will make rural communities more resilient to climate change. Key actions under the programme include construction of rural roads and irrigation facilities, increased use of resilient seeds and livestock breeds and improved natural resource management. The project will also address environmental issues like deforestation and loss of biodiversity, as these are interconnected with agricultural activities.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister thanked the European Union and its member countries for their generous support to the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Hon’ble Prime Minister assured that the support provided will be effectively and efficiently used for the intended purpose. The Hon’ble Prime Minister said, “We have a responsibility to our people to ensure that the EU funds that are provided to us are utilised efficiently, that every Euro is spent meaningfully for the benefit of our people. We have the responsibility to ensure that each and every target of all our programmes under EU fund is not just matched but are surpassed. We have this obligation to ourselves, to our people and to the EU.”
At the launch ceremony, Dr. Hesse said “We are pleased that this programme takes off as it will further strengthen the joint efforts of the EU and Bhutan in tackling climate change challenges. Since agriculture forms an important part of the Bhutanese economy, support to the evolution of a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector will be critical to the country’s overall development trajectory. Many farmers as well as local communities will benefit from this programme. Given that 65 % of women are active in the agricultural sector, the project will benefit them greatly.”
The new project is a continuation of the EU’s commitment to sustainable agricultural development in Bhutan where it has supported multiple projects since 1982. The new project has an implementation period of 54 months and is complementary to other projects from international donors like the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018) has set out enhanced food security, growth of the agricultural sector, enhanced rural livelihoods and improved sustainable management of natural resources as key priorities. These are especially critical given Bhutan’s vulnerability to climate change and the dependence of its population on agriculture.
The EU project aims to support the Royal Government of Bhutan in reaching these goals. The project is divided into two components. A €20 million budgetary support component, includes a policy dialogue with relevant authorities. The second component comprises €1.5 million in technical assistance. Budget support will be disbursed over a period of time, dependent on the success of the policy implementation process.
The funding for the project will be made available through a combination of € 16.5 million from the geographical development cooperation instrument and €5 million from the thematic Global Climate Change Alliance programme.
– Press Release by PPD, MoAF
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