Flood Early Warning Systems in Bhutan: A Gendered Perspective

Type Report
Title Flood Early Warning Systems in Bhutan: A Gendered Perspective
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://lib.riskreductionafrica.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/1305/Flood Early Warning Systems in​Bhutan.A Gendered Perspective.pdf?sequence=1
Bhutan experiences frequent hydrometeorological disasters. In terms of relative exposure to flood risk as a
percentage of population, Bhutan ranks fourth highest in the Asia-Pacific region, with 1.7% of its total population
exposed to flood risk. It is likely that climate change will increase the frequency and severity of flood disasters in
Bhutan. Inequalities in society are often amplified at the times of disaster and people living in poverty, especially
women, the elderly, and children, are particularly vulnerable to flood hazards. Timely and reliable flood forecasting
and early warnings that consider the needs of both women and men can contribute to saving lives and property.
Early warning systems (EWSs) that are people-centred, accurate, timely, and understandable to communities at
risk and that recommend the appropriate action to be taken by vulnerable communities can save people more
The Hindu Kush Himalayan-Hydrological Cycle Observing System (HKH-HYCOS) initiative, which is implemented
by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and its regional member countries in
collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), aims to address the challenges of providing
end-to-end flood early warning systems in the region, including data collection, transmission, and analysis and the
dissemination of information to communities at risk. For flood early warning systems to be fully effective, they must
reach the end users, meet the different needs of women and men, and consider the differential impacts of floods
on men and women. It is essential that they benefit women and men equally and, for this, a gender perspective is
required. Thus, a study on flood early warning systems from a gender perspective was conducted in four countries
of the HKH (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan) as a part of the HYCOS initiative. This report presents the
findings of the study in Bhutan.
The study assessed the policies and laws, implementing organizations, and coordination and linkage mechanisms
for flood early warning in Bhutan with respect to four key elements of flood EWS (risk knowledge, monitoring and
warning services, dissemination and communication, and response capacity). In relation to policies and laws, five
documents were reviewed: The Water Vision 2025 and Bhutan Water Policy, 2003; the National Disaster Risk
Management Framework, 2006; Bhutan Water Act, 2011; National Adaptation Programme of Action, 2012; and
Disaster Management Act, 2013. The policy review revealed a gap in terms of gender integration at the various
stages of early warning systems. The Disaster Management Act, a key document for implementing early warning
systems, makes specific reference to including women in disaster risk reduction, as well as in response and recovery.
However, none of the policy documents talk about the differential experiences, needs, and roles of women and men
with respect to EWS, nor do they discuss why we need to consider gender in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

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