Coming together: For experience sharing and peer learning

September 15, 2021

Agriculture officers and extension staff from Dagana working on a presentation capturing their experiences in project implementation Photo: UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

Over the course of two weeks, stakeholders of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) supported project ‘Supporting climate resilience and transformational change in the agriculture sector in Bhutan’, shared experiences and lessons from the field - best practices, successes, challenges, personal anecdotes and the way forward.

The ‘Knowledge Management: Sharing Experiences and Lessons Learnt’, jointly conducted, by the Project Management Unit and UNDP which started on 2 September, ended today. Divided into four groups, each group attending a three-day workshop, 160 officials from eight districts participated in the workshop.

The participants included stakeholders from different backgrounds - from the agriculture extension workers to planning, environment and finance officers. Officials from the local and district administrations, and central agencies like the agriculture department, National Centre for Hydrology and Metrology and Department of Roads were also engaged.

Each had a compelling experience to share. From sustainable land, water and irrigation management to training and advocating climate resilient farming techniques, the participants proved to be a knowledge pool gleaned from hands-on experiences.  

Working with the beneficiaries on an almost day-to-day basis, most participants were also their voices, sharing communities’ commitment, expectation, successes, and gratitude for the support.

The workshop aimed to foster exchange of knowledge and ideas for innovative and sustainable solutions to climate change impacts, building an evidence base and institutional archive and identifying knowledge and capacity gaps.  It also aims to inform policy and decision-making processes in areas of climate change, its impact on agriculture, livelihood, food security and socio-economic development. 

Participants engaged in the field work provided in-depth knowledge and insights of how the projects are progressing, the impact of COVID-19 on implementation works, and the communities’ willingness to learn and adopt climate resilient practices. Participants from the central agencies shared experiences of how proper coordination, collaboration and communication among the various stakeholders resulted into timely implementation of the project works.

Over the course of the workshop, it was reflected that the project was comprehensive and participatory, facilitated women and youth engagement, and transformational changes were seen not just at the landscape level but also awareness and knowledge of communities on climate resilient practices and technologies. 

A gewog administrative officer shares her experience with other participants UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

Project background

Supporting climate resilience and transformational change in the agriculture sector in Bhutan is implemented by the Royal Government of Bhutan, with support from GCF and UNDP.

It is implemented in the eight districts of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Zhemgang, Tsirang, Sarpang, Samtse and Dagana, which are highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change like weather pattern changes that has increased incidences of flashfloods, landslides, water scarcity among others. The districts are also priority for government in the context of its Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) targets, especially given the moderate-to-high poverty incidence rates that prevail.

Climate change places at risk 51 percent of the population who depend on agriculture for livelihood.

The government seeks to enhance resilience of smallholder farmers climate change by promoting resilient agriculture practices in the face of changing climate patterns; integrating climate change risks into water and land management practices that affect smallholders; and reducing the risk and impacts of climate change induced landslides during extreme events that disrupts market access.

The project, which is aligned with the government national adaptation priorities based on the Nationally Determined Contributions, will benefit over 118,000 people or 27,598 households.

The communities will benefit from climate information, climate resilient roads, enhanced irrigation, sustainable land management (SLM) interventions and climate resilient agricultural practices.

From the participants 

Dechen Pelden, Senior Extension Supervisor, Tangsibji, Trongsa Photo: UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

During the initial consultation meeting, not all farmers wanted their land developed, but as the work progressed and farmers saw how terracing was beneficial, more farmers came forward requesting similar support. This, however, is outside the purview of the guidelines and the targets set after consultation meeting. But, such workshops provide us with opportunities to relay to the Project Management Unit and the donors, how awareness of such initiatives are increasing and there is still need for continued support. 

- Dechen Pelden

Sonam Tobgay, Chief Accounts Officer, Department of Public Accounts Photo: UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

The experience was enriching since it gave us a common platform to discuss and deliberate the issues and challenges in the implementing agencies. We learnt about the importance of having common understanding on different project aspects. One key takeaway from the workshop was how we could implement the shared experiences. For instance, a solution from one implementing agency could be adopted to resolve similar issued faced by another.

- Sonam Tobgay

Kintu, Dzongkhag Chief Engineer, Tsirang Photo: UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

It’s a platform to discuss and learn from each other. It provided an opportunity to put all our issues and challenges together and work on a way forward. Tsirang’s project is small, but it has its own share of successes and challenges in project implementation. The end objective is that the vulnerable people, our farmers, benefit. Through this workshop and experience sharing, we further cemented our commitment to our work.

- Kintu