The stakeholder’s inception workshop on WASH project in Samtse was held from 4th to 5th December, 2014 in the Regional Revenue and Customs Office’s (RRCO) Conference Hall, Samtse. It is a continuation of introduction meeting with Samtse district administration on SAARC Development Fund supported project on “Strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services in Bhutan”.

It was graced by Dasho Dzongdag. He acknowledged RSPN and SNV for conceptualizing the project and supplementing the Ministry of Health on WASH Program for the benefit of the rural communities of Samtse district. He also mentioned that they are grateful to the Ministry of Health and two funding organizations for choosing Samtse district after successful WASH program in Lhuntse and Pemagatshel, and he assured for full cooperation support in implementing the project.

Introduction of WASH Program to the Stakeholders

Ms. Yeshi Lhadon of Public Health and Engineering Division (PHED), Ministry of Health presented the overview of the WASH Program. She highlighted that WASH program was initiated by the Health Ministry as early as 1974 aiming at improving the quality of life of rural populace by providing safe, convenient and sustainable water, sanitation services and better hygiene.

The District Health Officer of Samtse presented on the status of sanitation and hygiene. He said that Samtse do not have serious issues on sanitation and hygiene, but need lots of awareness among local people. “The project came in at the right time to supplement our efforts”, he said.

SNV WASH Project team presented on the working modality of WASH Program, highlighting on the four pillars of Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Program (RSAHP) components consisting of 1) WASH Governance, 2) Sanitation Supply Chair and Finance, 3) Hygiene Behavioural Change Communication and 4) Sanitation Demand Creation.

They also presented the importance of mutli-sectorial involvement, need of attitude and behavioural change of communities and benefits of the RSAHP. The District Health Officer of Pemagatshel also shared his experiences of WASH Program of Lhuntshe and Pemagatshel aiming at motivating and encouraging the stakeholders of Samtse district. The official from Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) also presented the Ministry Education’s involvement on WASH Program in the schools throughout the country.

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Representatives from PHED, RSPN, SNV, DYS, Ministry of Education and more than 55 local government officials (stakeholders) comprising Dungpas, engineers, Gups, Mangmis, Gewog Administrative Officers (GAOs), Health Assistants of 15 Gewogs and representatives from Dratsang (Monk Body) attended the workshop.

It was aimed at presenting the detail project profile, to garner support, seek inputs and suggestion and for collaboration in order to have better understanding on the WASH Program in the district.

The WASH Project Officer, Mr. Tsheten Dorji of RSPN presented the organizational information to the stakeholders to familiarize RSPN and its interest of working areas. His presentation also included details of the project such as the objectives, expected outputs and outcomes, working modality and working areas in the district. He emphasized that this inception meeting is a continuation of the earlier introductory meeting held in the district. He also pointed out that since the project is WASH related, the project would supplement the government by using the government (MoH) expertise and use as much as the existing materials and resources within national norms and standards.

On the second day, Gewog-wise cluster formation for the awareness raising and work plan for the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Program was developed by the concerned Gewog officials led by the Gups. It was a part of kick-start of the Sanitation and Hygiene Program. It ended with the closing remarks by Dzongkhag Tshogdue Chairperson. The Chairperson assured to render any possible support while implementing the program and he thanked RSPN for providing support on construction and rehabilitation of rural water supply systems in two Gewogs of Yoeseltse and Phuntshopelri. The inception workshop end with thanked to the stakeholders of the District for the productive session and for their time.

Although Samtse Dzongkhag Administration identified Yoeseltse and Samtse as the main project sites in 2011, the Dzongkhag has already acquired support from the Samtse Municipality Office for Samtse Gewog. Therefore, the final project site chosen is Yoseltse and Phuntshopelri Gewogs.

It was organized by PHED with the fund support from RSPN and SNV.

Reported by: Tsheten Dorji, Project Officer