The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives awarded 150,000 Canadian dollars, which is more than Nu 9.1 M to four Civil Society Organizations in the country. The fund will be used to support projects that will benefit youth, women, and persons with disabilities. The four CSOs that received the fund are the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, the Bhutan Transparency Initiative, the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, and the Draktsho Vocational Training Centre.
Through this fund, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature aims to enhance community’s resilience to climate change and agroecological farming in Zhemgang and Samdrup Jongkhar.
The projects, focused on supporting sustainable land management, small-scale water conservation and post-harvest facilities, and enhancing farmers’ capacity and market for farm products are expected to benefit around 300 households.
The RSPN has already implemented the project in Zhemgang, while the one in Samdrup Jongkhar is ongoing.
“The project has immensely benefited the local communities by improving their farmland and product diversification through the integration of agroecological farming and efficient water management. Overall, the project has enhanced the community’s resilience to climate change by environmentally, socially, and ecologically,” said Tsheten Dorji, the chief of sustainable livelihoods division of RSPN.
For the Bhutan Transparency Initiative, they carried out three projects, so far, to promote civic engagement and accountability.
This time, they are training over 20 Community-Based Organisations in Trongsa.
“One of the things that we have been doing lately is trying to promote good governance, especially at the local government level as well as among the CSOs and the CBOs. The result we are expecting from this initiative is that the internal governance mechanism of CBOs is improved over the years whereby the members take part in decision-making and ultimately remove corruption from the system,” said Rinzin Rinzin (PhD), the executive director of Bhutan Transparency Initiative.
Similarly, the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy said they are focusing on good governance and democracy for rural populations, people living with disabilities, and women and youth.
“Through this project, we have prioritised groups who otherwise may not have had access to civic education. We are engaging youth and children because we want to foster early education and a better understanding of the democratic process of the country. And we are engaging women because of the under-representation of women in politics,” said Phuntsho Choden, the programme officer of the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy.
And the Draktsho aims to enhance the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
“Children and youth with disabilities in the country face significant challenges including limited access to education and vocational training. The joint collaborative project between Draktsho and CFLI will provide a comprehensive approach to empowerment by addressing both vocational and civic aspects of the lives of persons with disabilities,” said Tshewang Dendup, the programme officer of Draktsho Vocational Training Centre.
The CSOs also received the funds in the previous years.
This year’s projects are expected to benefit the communities in Thimphu, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Trongsa, and Samtse.
“When I met with the communities and the beneficiaries of different projects, I was able to hear directly from them on what they think Canada should be supporting. This includes more opportunities for capacity building and training for cooperatives such as in finance,” said Stefanie Bergeron, First Secretary of the Embassy of Canada to Bhutan with residence in New Delhi.
She added that they have plans to collaborate in improving education in the future.
The criteria for the selection are based on the capacity of the CSO, its objectives, visibility of the activity, public engagement, and the credibility of the proposal.
Meanwhile, Canada and Bhutan are celebrating 20 years of official diplomatic relations this year.
Edited by Tshering Zam