Poverty rate*8% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
UN DEVELOPMENT INDEX*Rank: 132 out of 191
People supported per year13,500
Thematic focusVoice, Inclusion & Cohesion
Education and Vocational Skills
Gender & Social Equity
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.
Our Projects in Bhutan
If you would like to know more about our work in Bhutan, click on each project for details.