Tarayana’s attempt to curb rural-urban migration
Rural-urban migration is a phase in the development process that affects all countries and Bhutan is no exception. Rural to urban migration de-populates rural areas, decreasing farming activities and leads to food insecurity on one hand and causes overcrowding in urban centers, which leads to a strain in social amenities.
Chhimoong Gewog in Pema Gatshel has seen rapid rural-urban migration in the recent years as the youth who have completed class X, XII and even graduates move to urban areas in search of work opportunities. While the youth migrate to urban areas, the ones who are left behind in the rural areas are, sadly, the aged who can no longer work in the field and thus, many farmlands in the villages are now left fallow. If this trend continues, Bhutan’s main backbone of the economy, agriculture, will lose ground.
Projects like REAP II attempts to encourage educated youth initiatives including farming and agribusiness in the villages. I am delighted to share that many educated farmers who have completed their class X, XII and also graduates are now open and excited to live and work in the rural communities, spearheading the change they want in their villages. As young individuals discover the socio-economic opportunities in the rural pockets, more are willing to stay in and further improve the socio-economic dynamics by engaging in the provision of goods and services. Several youth led initiatives were supported through the project and capacities at various levels have been improved.
Tarayana Foundation initiated such programs so that they can provide platform wherein the youth can engage themselves in experimenting with their potential in weaving, farming, construction works. The startup costs are minimal when local resources are used as raw materials.
Take the example of Jigme Wangmo, who lost her mother right when she was 17 years old, the very age when her dreams were to blossom. She had to drop out of school when she was in class nine, as studious as she was fate had a different story for her. She took responsibility for the wellbeing of her younger brother, three sisters and her maternal grandparents. Her father left them to remarry. She is currently working with the cotton-weaving group and makes a decent living with her weaving skills. Yet Jigme Wangmo is not alone, there are many similar success stories of youth overcoming their misfortunes and living successfully. Where there is a will, there is a way.