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National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology

Project Title: Supporting Climate Resilience and Transformational Change in the Agriculture Sector in Bhutan

Project duration: 6 years (2020-2025)

Donor: Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Project Description

Given its geographic location and mountainous terrain, Bhutan is particularly vulnerable to changes in climate which affect the timing, frequency and intensity of rainfall (with consequent changes in runoff and erosional processes), as well as changes in temperatures which affect the altitude at which crops can grow and evaporation from soils. Water availability and management is challenging, with remote areas experiencing scarcity in dry years. Monsoon seasons experiencing high rainfall, flash floods and landslides have damaged existing irrigation schemes and disrupted market access for many smallholders. These impacts have a major bearing on smallholder farms in a sector that is critical for the Royal Government of Bhutan’s (RGoB’s) goals of food self-sufficiency and inclusive green socio-economic development.   

These climate-induced impacts on agricultural infrastructure, production and supply place at risk 58% of the country’s livelihoods, predominantly older farmers whose livelihood options are compromised. The increasing costs of recovery strain limited public resources, jeopardizing hard-won development gains within this least developed country. With only 7.8% of land arable, it is critical to ensure that the country’s limited agriculture potential is resilient to climate change.

Consequently, the RgoB seeks support to enhance the resilience of smallholder farms to rainfall variability, as well as increases in temperature and projected increases in monsoonal rainfall. Enhancing the resilience of the population engaged in agriculture, including the transition from reactive to climate-informed planning is fundamental to meeting the RGoB's aspirations on climate resilient, low carbon development. 

Given the specific climate change challenges confronting smallholders in vulnerable regions in Bhutan, a priority for the RgoB, the project seeks to enhance the resilience of smallholder farms to climate change, especially variation in rainfall and frequent occurrence of extreme events, through three complementary Outputs:

  • Promote resilient agricultural practices in the face of changing climate patterns

  • Integrate climate change risks into water and land management practices that affect smallholders

  • Reduce the risk and impact of climate change induced landslides during extreme events that disrupt market access

The project will benefit more than 118,000 people in eight dzongkhags (districts) across Bhutan: Dagana, Punakha, Trongsa, Tsirang, Sarpang, Samtse, Wangdue Phodrang and Zhemgang. These sites were selected by the RGoB given their vulnerability to climate change and priority for Government in the context of their SDG targets, especially given the moderate-to-high poverty incidence rates that prevail. The project is fully aligned with the RoB’s national adaptation priorities as per the Nationally Determined Contribution. Further, the project is in line with RGoB’s work programme with the GCF and is also in the selected Accredited Entity (UNDP) work programme.

NCHM Component, Output 1: Promote resilient agricultural practices in the face of changing climate patterns

Activity 1.1. Developing and integrating climate risk data into crop and livestock planning at the national and sub-national levels

A critical intervention required to support decision-making is the availability of localized data and analysis, and technical capacities to apply climate information to crop and livestock planning. Doing so will provide decision-makers (local authorities to farmers) with an opportunity to take action that will minimize losses from climate impacts. To build up this capability for climate risk informed agricultural planning, GCF resources will be used to generate climate information tailored for use in decision making at the national and subnational levels.

Sub-activities include:

  • Training to 15 NCHM staff to a) combine local, regional/global information, disaster database and data from climate monitoring stations, b) model/forecast climate, flood, drought and water resource information (on daily to seasonal, as well as medium to long term timescales)

  • Review and enhancement of crop and livestock loss methodologies for consistent tracking and measurement of losses against climate change variability and impact, and integration into planning processes

  • Development of 9 tailored climate products (1 national and 8 dzongkhag level), integrating climate change impacts on agriculture and related agriculture losses to inform planning 

  • Training to 150 MoAF staff on application of climate impacts and related loss information in agriculture planning

  • Development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for effective and timely dissemination of climate and climate risk information at the national and sub-national level. 

Activity 1.2. Tailored climate information and related training to local government and farmers to interpret and apply climate risk data to local and household level agriculture planning

Climate information of Activity 1.1 will inform tailored agricultural advisories (e.g. weather bulletins, targeted agro-advisory services, crop weather outlooks, crop yield forecast, etc.).  Farmers, cooperatives and government staff will be sensitized and trained in the use of climate information and related services to optimize production and limit the negative impacts of less favorable climatic/weather events. This will support communities, in particular, to adapt and optimize their farming practices to climate change and to be prepared to minimize negative impact through practices such as timely sowing, transplantation and harvesting and to anticipate frost, hail and wind and rain storms.

Sub-activities include:

  • Development of tailored climate information, and means of dissemination, for farmers to meet the short-term and long-term agriculture planning needs

  • Annual trainings in 8 target dzongkhags designed and delivered to farmers, cooperatives and local government officers/NGOs on the application of tailored climate information to improve agriculture household planning 

Contact Point

1. Ms. Phuntsho Wangmo, Asst. Environment Officer/Project Focal

Weather and Climate Services Division, National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology

Email: pwangmo@nchm.gov.bt

2. Ms. Monju Subba, Engineer/Project Focal

Weather and Climate Services Division, National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology

Email: msubba@nchm.gov.bt

Contact no: 00975 2 335578