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Protecting Bhutan’s cultural heritage

Dechen Tshering's picture
Cultural heritage is an extremely important aspect of Bhutan and is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness, the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development


Culture defines the sovereignty and identity of Bhutan and its people.

And the intricate beauty and uniqueness of its traditional architecture are known around the world.

As such, cultural heritage preservation is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness, the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development, and is embedded in all its national development policies.

In this context, the Royal Government of Bhutan has made it a priority to sustain both tangible and intangible aspects of its culture with dedicated offices under the Department of Culture of Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MOHCA), which work closely with local governments.

This work is critical as Bhutan’s monuments are vulnerable.

The 2009 and 2011 earthquakes damaged hundreds of historic monasteries and fortresses known as dzongs, including the Lhuntse and Trashigang Dzongs (2009) and the Paro Tadzong (2011).

Also, fires triggered some of the worst disasters in Bhutan’s cultural history.

The famous Paro Taktshang, nicknamed the Tiger’s Nest and the Wangduephodrang Dzong were burnt down in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Dzongs of Bhutan is their strategic location.

How can Sri Lanka better protect its people against disasters?

Thomas Walker's picture
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050

Sri Lanka has a long history of coping with weather impacts.  

About two thousand years ago, the country built one of the world’s first irrigation system to control its water supply.

This feat of engineering, which boasted hundreds of kilometers of channels, tanks, and innovative valve pits, helped the great kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa flourish into sophisticated societies and protect their people against hunger.

Not unlike these early civilizations, modern social protection programs have sheltered those affected by disaster through financial assistance and other forms of support.

Today, building resilience to natural disasters and other shocks is more critical than ever.

Since 1980, the frequency of natural disasters worldwide has increased by 250 percent, and the number of affected people has more than doubled.

Sri Lanka is no exception. The country ranked fourth most vulnerable to climate change in 2016.

Further to that, a recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050.

The losses caused by significant shocks like natural disasters have long-lasting consequences.

Children, especially, can suffer permanent damages if they are not educated or fed correctly in their critical early years.  

And the loss of assets, livestock, and crops can severely hurt small business owners and farmers and further discourage them from investing.

Sadly, natural disasters hit the poor the hardest as they tend to live in disaster-prone areas, work in agriculture, and usually don’t have savings or access to credit.

When a shock hits, wellbeing declines as people cut back on food and other essentials due to their loss of income or the high cost of rebuilding their homes.

And while some people gradually restore their standards of living, some never fully recover and get stuck in poverty.

But the poor aren’t the only ones who need to worry about shocks.

Today, a third of Sri Lankans are just a shock away from falling into poverty.

Our analysis of the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey reveals that a 20 percent sudden decrease in household welfare—or consumption shock—would more than double the poverty rate: almost 1 in 10 Sri Lankans would be poor.

If the shock triggered a 50 percent decrease in consumption, one in three Sri Lankan families would fall into poverty.

How can Bangladesh increase its resilience to disasters through data sharing?

Debashish Paul Shuvra's picture
 
How can Bangladesh increase its resilience to disasters?

Schools across Bangladesh are highly vulnerable to floods, cyclones, and earthquakes. How can the country mitigate and respond to the risks of these natural hazards?

By using the GeoDASH platform - a geospatial data sharing platform - the Directorate of Primary Education of Bangladesh has assessed 35,000 schools with respect to the type of infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities, access to roads, and overall capacity during natural disasters.

The GeoDASH platform is a reliable and extensive geographic and information (geospatial) data network.

These data are Geographic Information System (GIS) and other geolocation services-based information to represent objects or locations on a globally referenceable platform to enable mapping.

For example, locations of road network data can be merged with the flood risk map to get a single map for identifying vulnerable road communication in flood-prone areas.

This type of data will allow the Government of Bangladesh, communities, and the private sector to create, share and use disaster risk and climate change information to inform risk-sensitive decision making.

From Japan to Bhutan: Improving the resilience of cultural heritage sites

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
This page in: 日本語
 Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018
When it comes to their heritage buildings, both Bhutan and Japan have one common enemy: Fire. A view of Wangduephodrang Dzong in Bhutan which was destroyed by fire in 2012. Credit: Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018

About 2,749 miles, three countries, and a sea separate Kyoto, Japan, and Thimphu, Bhutan. The countries’ languages are different, and so are their histories.

But when it comes to their heritage buildings, both nations have one common enemy: Fire.

And to help prevent fire hazards, there’s a lot Bhutan can learn from Japan’s experience.

To that end, a Bhutanese delegation visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year to attend the Resilient Cultural Heritage and Tourism Technical Deep Dive to learn best practices on risk preparedness and mitigation, and apply them to Bhutan’s context.

Such knowledge is critical as Bhutan’s communities live in and around great heritage sites.

Empowering Indian women after a natural disaster hits

Hyunjee Oh's picture
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.


This blog is part of a series exploring housing reconstruction progress in Uttarakhand, India.
  
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills.
 
The disaster – the worst in the country since the 2003 tsunami—hit more than 4,200 villages, damaged 2,500 houses, and killed 4,000 people.
 
Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
 
“The river was fast swelling up,” she said. “It had crossed the danger mark and reached close to our house. We just took our daughter and left with an umbrella and a lantern.”
 
She now owns a new house abuzz with music and her daughter’s laughs.
 
Like thousands of other people in Uttarakhand, Damyanti received support through the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to rebuild her home.
 
This support channeled through the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project (UDRP) also helped build better roads and mitigate future disaster risks in local communities.
 
A key component of the project was to rebuild 2,382 more resilient houses based on the owner-driven housing reconstruction model,  which allows families to rebuild according to their specific needs.
 
This community-driven approach is important as women are typically at greater risk from natural hazards than men, particularly those who are poor and live in low-income countries.
 
There is indeed strong evidence that disasters impact women differently and amplify gender inequalities.
 
Women and men have different perceptions of their surroundings and coping abilities, roles, responsibilities, and resources before or in the aftermath of a disaster.
 
Gender-sensitive approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, adaptation, relief, recovery, and reconstruction can save more lives and promote more gender-inclusive development.  

With that in mind, the  housing reconstruction component of UDRP helped empower women like Damyanti in the aftermath of a disaster in 4 different ways:

د افغانستان ښوونځي معياري او قوی ودانيو ته اړتيا لري

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | دری
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
د هرات ولایت په یوه لمړنی ښوونځي کې یو ښوونکي د لوبې وسایلو په واسطه د زده کونکو څخه د اعدادو پوښتنه کوي. عکس: د رومی مشورتي شرکت / د نړیوال بانک

په افغانستان کې تحصیلي او ښوونیزو آسانتیاوو ته لاسرسۍ په تېرو اوولسو کلونو کې د پراختیايي پروګرامونو یو مهم مُحرک بلل کېږي. په ۲۰۰۱ زېږدیز کال کې، تقریباَ په عمومي توګه نجونې د دغه هېواد په ښوونیز او تحصیلي نظام کې ګډون نه درلود او فقط یو مېلیون هلکانو د دې هېواد په ۳۴۰۰ ښوونځېو کې نوم لیکنه کړې وه. خو په ۲۰۱۵ زېږدیز کال کې په ۱۶۴۰۰ ښوونځیو کې د اته میلیونو ماشومانو څخه زیات ګډون د دې لامل شو، څو د نوم لیکنې په بهیرکې ۹ ځله زیاتوالی رامنځته شي.

 که څه هم د پوهنې په برخه کې لاسته راوړنې خورا مثبتې ارزول کېږي، خو د افغانستان په ښوونځیو کې د ښوونیز چاپېریال کېفیت او مصؤنیت اوس هم ډاډمن نه بلل کېږي: لږ تر لږه نیمايي درسي خونې  په خورا ګڼه ګونه حالت کې د خېمو لاندې او یا هم په یو خورا ناسم چاپېریال کې په زده کړو بوخت دي.

د طبیعي پېښو له امله د افغانستان د زیانمن کېدنې اټکل، د ښوونځیو لپاره د نویو او خوندي ودانیو جوړول او د شته ودانیو تحکیم او بیارغونې لپاره زیاتېدونکې اړتیا لا پیاوړې کوي، ترڅو په دې توګه د زده کوونکو اوښوونکو د ژوند او سلامتیا په هراړخیزه توګه تامین شي.

فرضاً که د زده کړې په یوه ښوونیزه ورځ کې زلزلې وشې، شونې ده، چې په ښوونځیو کې د معیاري ودانیو او زېربناوو د نه شتون له امله ۵ مېلیونه زده کوونکي ژوند له ګواښ سره مخامخ شي. پخوا طبېعي پېښو او له هغې څخه د اړوندو خطرونو په هکله ډاډمنو معلوماتو او ارقامو ته لاسرسۍ ډیر محدود و، او له همدې امله د پیښود مشخص وخت او راتلونکي په هکله دقیق او ډاډمن  معلومات او ارقاموته ته لاسرسۍ یوه ستره ستونزه بلل کېدله.

په افغانستان کې د څو لسیزو جګړې له امله د معلوماتو او شمېرو راټولول یو پېچلۍ حالت ځان ته غوره کړی، څرنګه چې دغه وضعیت نه یوازې له طبیعي پېښو او خطرونو سره د دغه هېواد د تګلارې په وړاندې یو ستر خنډ بلل کېږي، بلکه د طبېعي پېښو د زیانونو په وړاندې د ځواب ورکوونکو ظرفیتونو په شمېر کې هم خورا زیات کموالی رامنځته کړی.

Making schools more resilient in Afghanistan

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
A primary school teacher in western Herat Province is teaching her students numbers with toys. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

In Afghanistan, access to education has been a successful driver of development over the last seventeen years.

In 2001, one million children--almost none of them girls-- were enrolled in 3,400 schools. In 2015, there was a nine-fold increase in enrolment with more than eight million students in 16,400 schools, of whom almost 40 percent were girls.

While it's encouraging to see progress in access to education, the quality and safety of the school facilities are not as reassuring : One of every two students in Afghanistan learns in overcrowded temporary shelters or in fragile outdoor conditions.
 
Given Afghanistan's vulnerability to natural disasters, it's urgent to build safer schools and rehabilitate older facilities in order to protect lives.

If an earthquake were to hit Afghanistan on a school day, 5 million students would be affected. 

In the past, addressing infrastructure resilience has been a challenge since information regarding current and future disaster and climate risk has been extremely limited and fragmented.

Compounded by decades of conflict, this has undermined Afghanistan's ability to cope and effectively respond to natural disasters.

مکاتب افغانستان نیازمند ساختمان های معیاری و مستحکم

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
یک استاد در یکی از مکاتب ابتداییه در ولایت هرات در حال پرسیدن اعداد از شاگردان اش با استفاده از سامان بازی (بازیچه های اطفال) است.  عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/بانک جهانی

طی هفده سال گذشته دسترسی به تسهیلات تعلیمی و تحصیلی به مثابۀ یکی از مُحرک های کلیدی انکشافی در افغانستان محسوب میگردد. در سال ۲۰۰۱ میلادی، تقریباَ  در کل دختران شامل ساختار تعلیمی و تحصیلی دراین کشور نبوده و فقط یک میلیون طفل پسر در ۳۴۰۰ مکاتب این کشور ثبت نام نموده بودند. اما این رقم در سال ۲۰۱۵ میلادی با حضور یافتن بیشتر از هشت میلیون متعلم در ۱۶۴۰۰  مکتب ۹ برابر  افزایش را نشان میدهد.

با آنکه پیشرفت ها در عرصه معارف اُمیدوار کننده است، اما کیفیت و مصؤنیت محیط آموزشی در مکاتب هنوز هم قابل اطمینان پنداشته نمیشود: حد اقل نیمی از  شاگردان در  محیط فوق العاده مزدحم در زیر خیمه ها و یا هم در شرایط محیطی بسیار نامطلوب  مصروف فراگیری تعلیم میباشند
              
با در نظرداشت شرایط آسیب پذیري افغانستان در مقابل حوادث طبیعی، اعمار ساختمان های مصؤن برای مکاتب  و احیای مجدد مکاتب و تسهیلات موجود به منظور حفظ جان  و زندگی شاگردان و معلمین یک ضرورت مبرم بشمار میرود.
اگر فرض کنیم زلزله در جریان یک روز درسی صورت گیرد، ممکن زندگی ۵ میلیون شاگرد بنابر عدم معیاری بودن سا ختمان ها، تعمیرات و زیربنا ها در مکاتب  با خطر مواجه گردد.  

در گذشته رسیدگی به این معضل امکان پذیر نبود زیرا عدم موجودیت معلومات و آمار های دقیق در مورد وقوع حوادث در زمان مشخص و یا آینده منحیث یک چالش عمده محسوب میشد.

Managing climate risks in South Asia: A “bottom up” approach

Poonam Pillai's picture
Surma river between Bangladesh and India
The Surma River that flows between Bangladesh and India. Photo Credit: Poonam Pillai

Being from Kolkata, I have always been used to floods. Prolonged flooding typically meant schools and offices closed, traffic jams and a much-needed respite from the tropical summer heat. However, it was during a field visit to the flood prone northeastern border of Bangladesh, where rivers from India flow downstream into Bangladesh, that I fully appreciated the importance of disaster early warning systems and regional collaboration in saving lives, property, enabling communities to evacuate and prepare for extreme weather events.

Disaster early warning systems, along with other information services based on weather, water and climate data (sometimes known as “hydromet” or “climate services”) play a key role in disaster preparedness and improving the productivity and performance of climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture.  Along with investments in resilient infrastructure, risk financing strategies and capacity building measures, they are a key part of a toolkit for strengthening disaster and climate resilience.  Research shows that for every dollar spent on disaster early warning systems, the benefits range from $2-10.  In South Asia, these are particularly important given the region’s extreme vulnerability to climate risks and staggering socio-economic costs arising from extreme weather events.

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 2/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture

Photo: Swarna Kazi / World Bank

This is the second of a three-part series, "Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm," on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.

 
With a population of 160 million, Bangladesh is situated at the epicenter of some of the deadliest cyclones the world has ever experienced. Catastrophic events are the norm rather than the exception. A severe tropical cyclone can strike every 3 years and 25% of the land floods annually.
 
The network of the mighty Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna rivers makes its meandering journey through the delta into the Bay of Bengal forming the coast of Bangladesh.
 
The jagged coastline of Bangladesh spans hundreds of miles and is subject to multiple challenges: 62% of the coastal land has an elevation of up to 3 meters and 83% is up to 5 meters above sea level. These low-lying areas are highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
 
Earlier this year, I got a chance to see first-hand the challenges that this demanding landscape had brought onto the communities of a remote coastal village. What struck me most when speaking to members of this coastal community was their courage and resilience. Aware that a calamity can hit anytime, they struggle to protect their livelihoods affected by saltwater intrusion, and their own lives which are increasingly at risk due to rising sea levels, and exposure to more frequent and devastating storms and cyclones.
 
By 2050, the coastal population is projected to grow to 61 million people, whose livelihoods will increasingly be at risk due to the impact of climate change.
 
Triggered by climate change, seawater inundation could become a major problem for traditional agriculture. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (2014), climate-related declines in food productivity will impact livelihoods and exports and increase poverty. In Bangladesh, it is estimated that these factors would cause a net increase in poverty of 15% by 2030.
 
To mitigate against such risks, the government has been investing in strengthening the resilience of the coastal zone. Over the years, Bangladesh has become an example of how protective coastal infrastructure, together with social mobilization and community-based early warning systems, is helping to build resilience.

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