August eNews

Posted by Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, September 1st, 2023

Community Development Expo – Participatory Planning in Action 

Following the successful six-day workshop on GNH-Based Participatory Planning and Community Analysis in Samdrup Jongkhar, the local government leaders tried their hands at inclusive consultation and co-creation of community development plans in 11 gewogs (blocks) in the district. The initiative was geared towards transforming existing developmental planning approaches into a more GNH-focused participatory process.

As a culmination of the process, BCMD organised the Community Development Expo – Participatory Planning in Action on August 25th. This event celebrated the learning  of local government leaders, many of whom were experiencing inclusive consultation and co-creation of plans for the first time in their career. 

The shift in approach, facilitated by the GNH-based participatory planning  toolkit, has been notable. Yeshi Wangchuk, program officer of Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative observed ”… a huge difference in the way they [local leaders] work now compared to the previous method. Now with the tool, they can directly involve the community in identifying the issues.” In the words of a Gup, “such approaches to planning will bring greater transparency, accountability, and reduce corruption because it involves developing plans with the community residents” 

A resounding shift in perspective with the participating local government leaders and administrators is the realisation of how till now their plans were based on an exclusive group of people that left many voices marginalised in the communities. 

A faculty from the Jigme Namgyel Engineering College shared how being part of the project made her realise how resources within the community remain untapped, such as the technical skills of the college students, while the community remained in dire need of such skills.

The exposition served as a platform for collaboration, learning, and the establishment of valuable connections between various stakeholders and the local leaders of Samdrup Jongkhar. 

The event was graced by the presence of His Excellency Sangay Dorji, Chairperson of the National Council, along with Members of Parliament, Government Officials, Development Partners, Financial Institutions, State-Owned Enterprises, and representatives from Civil Society Organisations.

We would like to thank The Asia Foundation for supporting this project.


Social Protection Advocacy Event Highlights Inequities and Calls for Strategic Policies

On August 18, 2023, BCMD organised its 2nd advocacy on social protection, bringing attention of policymakers, parliamentarians, and public services providers to the issue.

The participants from marginalised sectors of society who had previously taken part in a Design Thinking workshop led by BCMD presented  a policy brief capturing a series of recommendations tailored to uplifting their conditions through.

Pressing issues such as unequal access to education, limited access to information and education, and the availability of essential public services were brought to the forefront. The event notably spotlighted gender inequalities  and the complex challenge of social reintegration of some marginalised groups like recovering addicts. Notably, those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, caregivers, youth, and women faced significant social protection issues. 

At the event, Kinley Wangchuk, the Executive Director of Disabled People’s Organisation,  highlighted the existing implementation gaps though the policy for Persons With Disabilities (PWD) 2019 touts collaboration between the government and financial institutions to ensure accessibility to financial services for PWD. A parliamentarian remarked that the event helped them understand the issues better as they got to interact with people who have first-hand experience of the issues. 

The event raised several social protection-related issues faced by vulnerable groups and appealed to the government for necessary policy adoption. A policy brief on social protection is available at

The event drew significant attention, attracting more than 70 participants, including distinguished figures like Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji, a Unicef Representative, government officials, parliament members, financial institution representatives, development partners, and delegates from civil society organisations. 

We would like to thank FIT and UNICEF Bhutan for supporting this project 

Empowering Writers: From Theory to Practise in Content Writing Workshops 

BCMD’s Media Lab hosted two day-long content writing workshops in August. The first one, on August 1, built on the two writing workshops given in July by attracting experienced writers eager to level up their craft. They learned the tricks of empathising with their stories’ characters, whether real or fictional, to rise above the ceaseless flood of online content. The workshop also demonstrated how to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to generate ideas, conduct research, and make prose grammatically error free. 

The second day-long content writing workshop, on August 17, focused on grant proposal writing and reports for Youth Centre coordinators from Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. The participants brainstormed a potential project — to be run by their youth centre — for which they would request grant money. They practised writing, in detail, about exactly how that proposed project would solve the issue and how it aligned with the grantor’s stated mission. 

The project was supported by Society Switzerland Bhutan, The Friends of Bhutan Austria and the German Bhutan Himalayan Society.