The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Grant to Train Rural Bhutanese in Income-Earning Trades

Grant to Train Rural Bhutanese in Income-Earning Trades

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A grant of almost US$2 million from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), financed by the Government of Japan, will help reduce poverty among rural Bhutanese through a pilot project to develop their income-generating skills.

Poverty in the country is persistent in rural areas, where people rely mostly on subsistence agriculture and are financially vulnerable during the off-farm seasons.

The project will pilot a skills development program in 25 geogs (group of villages) in three rural districts. To be carried out during off-farm seasons, the programs will teach villagers basic modern trades such as carpentry, masonry, electrical wiring, plumbing, and construction planning.

The project will train 30 trainers and produce manuals and textbooks, and train at least 375 villagers throughout the program’s 4-year period. Graduates will then be registered on a web site that can serve as a database of workers who can be hired for specific projects. If successful, the Government will replicate the approach in the remaining 175 geogs in the country.

“The new skills developed under the project will not only provide the villagers means to earn income during off-farm seasons, it will also save them house repair costs,” says Hiroyuki Ikemoto, an ADB Economist and team leader for the project.

Villages will also benefit from the program as on-the-job training will include the construction of public toilets and hostels for schoolchildren. If requested, the project can also provide additional training in traditional arts and crafts, and maintenance of office equipment.

The project complements the Government’s Village Skills Development Program and the ADB-backed Basic Skills Development Project, which expanded vocational education and training for new graduates, unemployed youth, domestic laborers, women, and people in rural areas.

The Government and beneficiaries will contribute $340,000 equivalent toward the project's cost, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide technical support through short term JICA experts and JICA senior and junior volunteers.

The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million, followed by additional contributions totaling $155 million in 2002, and annual contributions up to 2006 bringing the total amount to $360 million.

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