© Helvetas


Bhutan is a remote landlocked and mountainous country in the eastern Himalayas. With the new constitution of 2008, the kingdom became a constitutional monarchy offering prospects to the people to play a more active role in the steering of the country. With increased access to education, more and more young educated Bhutanese need jobs. With Helvetas' support, young women and men acquire a practically oriented vocational education with job prospects. In addition, we seek to shore up civil society in the new role it has to play in this fledgling democracy, and to support community leaders and local government institutions to play a greater role.
© Helvetas
  • Capital
  • Area
    38,394 km²
  • Poverty rate*
    8% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
    Rank: 127 out of 191
  • Population
  • People supported per year
  • Thematic focus
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Education and Vocational Skills
    Gender & Social Equity
* Source: UN Data, and Bhutan Poverty Analsysis Report

Helvetas has been active in Bhutan since 1975. We have successfully completed projects in dairy farming, agriculture and forestry and in building suspension footbridges, as well as a teacher training project that has significantly increased school enrollment among Bhutan’s children. The illiteracy rate here has plummeted from 90% to under 40% in a single generation. Now these well-educated school leavers need jobs. On the other hand, many educated young people in Bhutan would rather go on to college: skilled trades are not (yet) highly regarded. Hence there is a lack of skilled workers in the country.

Increasing practical learning for young people

A paradox in Bhutan is rising unemployment among youth while companies face a lack of skilled people. This is why Helvetas is supporting the government in its efforts to improve vocational training. The Swiss apprenticeship model and the experience we have gained from a successful training project in Nepal are being applied in Bhutan. Young women and men are being trained to become plumbers, for example, who go on to install new toilets in monasteries and build homes and commercial centers in Bhutan’s growing construction market.

Promotion of citizens' initiatives

The democratization process in Bhutan is making headway. The first democratic elections were held in 2007/2008. And yet the people are still marked by their traditional role as “subjects” of the former system. Political self-determination and active participation in society are still unfamiliar concepts to many Bhutanese. Helvetas reinforces civil society in its new role. For example, supporting civil society initiatives on topics of transparency, the role of the media in a democracy, and women’s empowerment.

Shifting greater power and responsibilities to local leaders

Helvetas works nationwide with local groups, organizations, cooperatives with local government, focusing in particular on communities in the poorest regions of the country. Through various trainings, elected local leaders learn to plan better and to make sure that people who elected them are part of deciding what happens in their villages.

Visit the website of Helvetas Bhutan.

The country programme in Bhutan is co-funded by the SDC programme contribution.

Our Projects in Bhutan

 If you would like to know more about our work in Bhutan, click on each project for details.

© Helvetas
Bhutan Education and Vocational Skills

Building Trades with a Future for Young Men and Women

© Helvetas
Bhutan Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Partnership for Diverse Civil Society Actions

© HelvetasBhutan
Bhutan Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Bringing Decision-Making to Local Communities

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

Education and Vocational Skills

Lack of education perpetuates inequality because poor countries cannot compete economically without a skilled workforce.

Private Sector Development

Youth need access to reliable, fairly paid jobs to break the cycle of poverty. Helvetas creates partnerships and promotes policies that build more inclusive economies.

P.O. Box 157
11001 Thimphu

Phone: +975 2 32 28 70
Fax:+975 2 323210
E-Mail: bhutan@helvetas.org