Bhutan-Japan sign grant contract to address violence against children in rural communities

Grant to provide transportation facilitation for vulnerable children in remote areas through Nazhoen Lamten

Violence against children is common in most societies around the world. The episodes are not only prevalent in urban centres, but also occur in rural areas, mostly within destitute families and households.

In a bid to address the violence against children in rural areas, the respective Ambassadors of Bhutan and Japan, V. Namgyal and Hiroshi Suzuki signed a grant contract for “The Project for the Transportation Facilitation for Eliminating Violence against Children in Remote Areas in Bhutan” in New Delhi on March 13. This significant agreement aims to provide immediate support and long-term livelihood opportunities to vulnerable children.

Under the project, the Government of Japan will provide USD 40,000 to Nazhoen Lamten, a Civil Society Organization (CSO) to procure a utility vehicle. The utility vehicle provided by Japan aims to enhance Nazhoen Lamten’s support for marginalized children and youth in remote areas by facilitating the organization’s case management initiative.

Due to limited transportation resources, reaching out to most of the vulnerable children was a huge barrier to their service delivery. With the new utility vehicle, Nazhoen Lamten is determined to overcome these barriers, reaching children in rural pockets where services were previously inaccessible and ensuring timely intervention to prevent exploitation and abuse.

The program officer of Nazhoen Lamten, Yeshi Nidup shared that the aim of the project is to address violence against children in rural areas, such as abuse and neglect in their homes and communities. “By providing immediate support and long-term livelihood opportunities, we aim to break the cycle of poverty and violence faced by vulnerable children, ultimately ensuring a better future for upcoming generations.”

Yeshi shared that the organization provides case management support to children living in difficult circumstances in six piloted districts: Thimphu, Chhukha, Dagana, Zhemgang, Paro, and Mongar. “The case management system involves six steps: identifying and screening, assessing, planning, implementing, following up, and closing cases in the best interest of the child.”

Since its foundation in 2013, Nazhoen Lamten has reached out to over 700 children and their families, setting up more than hundred micro businesses to sustain their livelihoods and breaking the chain of poverty and violence faced by children.

The CSO was a part of the planning consultation meeting for the next fiscal year of Zhemgang Dzongkhag. The project activities and estimated budgets were presented where such inclusion is crucial in exploring collaboration opportunities with the local government.

Apart from being a service provider, the organization is also actively engaged in creating awareness and advocacy.

Through initiatives like establishing community child protection teams, the organization has been actively working towards maximizing the impact of the projects on addressing violence against children. Yeshi said, “We aim to expand the reach and establish protection teams in rural communities, ensuring that vulnerable children receive the necessary support and protection.”

For instance, five chiwogs under Trong gewog in Zhemgang have individual child protection teams who are closely working with the district Women and Child Committee to identify children in need of protection and other services.

Meanwhile, Nazhoen Lamtoen started as a volunteer group in 2013 after recognizing the need to facilitate the reintegration of children in conflict with the law. It was found that the majority of the children in conflict with the law came from difficult circumstances.

Following the voluntary initiative, Nazhoen Lamtoen was formally registered on December 2016 with the Civil Society Organization Authority (CSOA), Ministry of Home Affairs. Today, they provide reintegration and diversion services to children in conflict with the law and case management support to children and families of children in difficult circumstances.

Nazhoen Lamtoen also provides interim residential care to children as a measure of last resort through the Nazhoen Lamtoen Children’s Halfway Home.

The funding is provided by the Government of Japan through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Project (GGP) scheme. Under this scheme, a number of projects have been implemented in Bhutan.

Like all the other projects supported by the Government of Japan till date, the GGP project is expected to further strengthen the excellent bond of friendship, understanding, and cooperation that exists between Bhutan and Japan.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu