Shompangkha communities face acute water problem

Shompangkha communities face acute water problem

Facing drinking water problem during the dry months isn’t new for the people of Dargaythang, Koenchoeling, Shompangkha and Risoomgang chiwogs under Shompangkha gewog, Sarpang. But this year, people of these chiwogs have witnessed severe water problem as sources have dried. They have had to fetch water from faraway streams, not getting enough water from the distributed reservoirs.

Every year, water caretakers collect water from the stream bed to supply enough drinking water to 25 households in Dargaythang and Shompangkha. However, the dry season is a curse for many of the villagers who are made to face acute shortage of clean drinking water.

The former chairperson of the local water body, Kinley Yangzom from upper Norbugang village under Dargaythang chiwog fetches water from her business site, Hiley. With the dry season, Kinley Yangzom said that the water crisis trend compared to the past is severe.

“All 21 households in the villages are facing acute drinking shortage,” she shared. The former chairperson of the local water body said that the locals have been resorting to find their own water source and link it with pipelines. But she said, their only convenient water “is being taken by the Sarpang PWD municipal.”

A 75-year-old resident of Norbugang village, Tshey Dolma Tamang, expressed concerns about the limited water supply in the mornings and evenings, stating that it is insufficient for domestic use. She mentioned that this shortage has led to delays in vegetable cultivation and poses challenges for maintaining health and sanitation.

Thakhur Prasad Homagai from Dargaythang reported that their water source at Dumrikholsi, located approximately 200 meters from their village, has diminished in size. Additionally, the water source from Khortikhola, previously used for agriculture, has completely dried up.

He said that the people have raised their voice and a proposal for a new pipeline was submitted to the concerned agency through gewog office. However, he said, “people did not get any response.”

Despite political and Local Government (LG) candidates’ pledges to solve the water problem, Thakhur Prasad Homagai said that the villagers did not get any new pipeline after 2008. He said that vegetable farming and irrigation have been affected. He suggested that the issue of water shortage could be addressed by constructing a pipeline from the Mugu water source, located approximately 10 kilometers from their village. Alternatively, he proposed that people could pump water from the Sarpang river.

Bir Bdr Tamang, a 68-year-old resident of Koencholing village with eight family members, remarked that the villagers had not experienced a water crisis to this extent in previous years. He shared that his family had been facing insufficient water supply for the past week.

From the reservoir, the caretaker distributes water to the villagers for one hour in the evening and morning. Every household have their own tank to stock the water. However, villagers say with the small water from the sources it is not sufficient for the people.

Because of the water problem, Bir Bdr Tamang said that farmers are discouraged to plant vegetables and crops.

Bir Bdr Tamang and his neighbours, fetch water from Darapasa stream, which takes about 30 minutes.

A family with six members, 64-year-old Migma Dorji Tamang from Koencholing village said that timely distributed water is not sufficient for daily consumption.

Meanwhile, with just two family members, Yamnath from the same village has a private pipeline and a 20,000 liters water tank. Unlike others, he does not face severe water problem.

One of the villagers said that the depletion of water sources annually poses a significant threat to their future, impacting humans and all living beings worldwide. The villagers pointed out that the local officials’ actions of clearing bushes, trees, and overgrazing show a lack of awareness of the consequences. Some rivers remain underutilized, leading to communities relying on water tankers for supply.

People said that elected officials have not effectively addressed the water crisis, with inefficient planning and implementation by local authorities contributing to the problem. Water resources are more critical than infrastructure development for the people. People also say that protecting forests from human exploitation is crucial for a sustainable environment for future generations. Prioritizing efforts to address these issues is essential for ensuring access to clean drinking water and a prosperous future.

Dargaythang Tshogpa Tula Ram Dhankuti said that the main cause is due to lack of source in winter season. Owning of water source by individuals have also intensified the crisis, according to the Tshogpa.

The Tshogpa said that the gewog is waiting for the Belkhola water project, which should be completed by the first year of the 13th Five Year Plan.

Sangay Rabten, Thimphu