Bhutan – National Training Course


UN-SPIDER holds training course for Bhutan officials

The training course will strengthen the capacities of Bhutan to use satellite information for disasters

On 13 April 2015, UN-SPIDER and UNDP Bhutan kicked off a training course for Bhutanese officials on "


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UN-SPIDER holds training course for Bhutan officials


Publishing Date: 

Tue, 14/04/2015 - 06:59




Tue, 04/14/2015

UN-SPIDER news: 


Bhutan - Technical Advisory Mission

At the request of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Ministry of Home and Civil Affairs (MoHCA), Royal Government of Bhutan, UN-SPIDER organized a Technical Advisory Mission to Bhutan to evaluate the current and potential use of space-based information in Bhutan and to strengthen all aspects of disaster risk management and emergency response through better access to space-based information.


Mon, 02/06/2014 to Fri, 06/06/2014

Host Institution: 

Department of Disaster Management (DDM)

Mission Team: 

The mission team comprised seven experts: Shirish Ravan (UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER, China), Karma Lodey Rapten (UNDP, Bhutan), Rajan Bajracharya (ICIMOD, Nepal), Lingling Li (NDRCC, China), Stefan Keinberger (University of Salzburg, Austria), Hari Prasad Vajja (ADPC, Bangladesh) and Satya Parkash Katyal (ISRO, India).

Mission Profile: 

Over the course of five days, the mission team conducted several meetings with key government agencies and institutions accompanied by the UN agencies involved. As part of the Technical Advisory Mission, a one-day workshop was conducted on the penultimate day of the mission. The workshop was attended by about 30 officials representing various ministries and departments of the Royal Government of Bhutan as well as numerous institutions. The workshop sought to generate awareness, address issues and suggest areas where space-based information can be utilized to support the disaster management cycle. During the course of the TAM, the mission team held several discussion sessions to reflect upon their findings to compile the assessments and develop a set of recommendations. On the final day, the team concluded with debriefing sessions with Mr. Chhador Wangdi, Director of DDM, MoHCA, and Ms. Christina Carlson, UNRC in Bhutan.

Mission Findings: 

The mission team was made very much aware of the high priority placed on disaster risk reduction by the Bhutan Government. The importance of disaster risk reduction is echoed as one of the 16 National Key Results Area (NKRA) of the Royal Government of Bhutan for the 11th Five-Year Plan (FYP) running from 2013 to 2018.

The Disaster Management Act rightly identified the need of Hazard zone mapping, maps and risk assessment. Thus, the mission team noted the DDM’s strive forward to build technical competence to perform tasks like hazard and risk mapping, assessing vulnerability and providing an efficient response during emergencies.

The mission team highlighted that the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is well positioned to support the disaster risk reduction mandates of Bhutan’s National Disaster Management Authority as the department is currently perceived by stakeholders as the coordination agency. While capacities to use space-based and geospatial information exist in several stakeholder departments, the DDM needs to be strengthened with the appropriate technical capacity and supporting mechanisms to coordinate with stakeholder agencies and develop national programmes.

In addition to several agencies using space technology to prepare map products for disaster risk management, there are various organisations implementing projects with national and international partners using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology which are directly or indirectly contributing to disaster management. The coordination of these activities could be further strengthened to make available a wealth of spatial information.

Mission Recommendations: 

Policy, Coordination and Cooperation

  • Formulation of geo-spatial policy related to disaster risk management, which may evolve finally into a National Spatial Data Infrastructure policy for the country
  • The Disaster Management plans and policies should incorporate the use of space-based information and geospatial technology in Disaster Management
  • A common approach and strategy is needed to define key concepts and terminologies to enable the reduction of disaster risk with a link to climate change adaptation and the pillars of Gross National Happiness (GHP) should be coordinated by Department of Disaster Management (DDM)
  • DDM should further strengthen tools and instruments to coordinate activities, capacities, projects and funds in the context of disaster risk management in Bhutan

Data access, availability and sharing

  • DDM should enumerate its data requirements and coordinate with stakeholder agencies for systematic generation data products required for disaster risk reduction decision making
  • Remote sensing data coverage for the entire country on medium resolution and specific areas on high resolution is required to enable generation of geospatial layers required for disaster risk reduction
  • Satellite data requirements for Bhutan should be streamlined through a single agency to enable judicious utilization of funds. All departments can make use of this data
  • DDM should use CGISC as a platform to plan strategies data needs to address current information gaps for disaster risk reduction

Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening

  • A capacity building strategy should be developed to address long-term capacity building needs of DDM and its key stakeholders
  • An institution within Bhutan (for example, College of Science and Technology, Royal University of Bhutan) needs to be enabled to offer regular capacity building progammes
  • Key agencies in Bhutan should be further linked to regional and international networks (e.g. such as GSDI, GEO etc.)

Strengthening disaster risk reduction decision making

  • The DDM has a critical role to play in establishing mechanisms which allow rapid data sharing with hazard and to ensure that risk maps produced by stakeholder agencies are of national standard
  • The DDM needs to leverage and expand capacities of stakeholder organisations so that they develop products needed for disaster risk reduction
  • Risk and mapping should be carried out initially on a pilot basis to develop methodologies and later these methodologies should be applied at the national level. Specific ‘national missions’ should be initiated through DDM to prepare national and sub-national hazard, vulnerability and risk mapping (in a phased manner based on priorities).
  • Disaster risk reduction activities and related interventions should be further linked to climate change adaptation and the objectives of Gross National Happiness.

Strengthening early warning and preparedness

  • The DDM should embed early warning from Bhutan Department of Hydro-Meteorological Service (DHMS) in the risk management plans. Currently, early warning is a standalone element at DHMS, and therefore its benefits to responders at the field level and communities at risk are not fully exploited.
  • The DDM should develop capacities to improve multi-hazard early warning by integrating inputs from DMHS, the Department of Geology & Mines, the National Statistics Bureau and other agencies
  • The DDM should play an important role in tailoring/downscaling early warning information to serve decision makers and population at stake (use community-based disaster risk management programme as a base).
  • The DDM should integrate early warning information in a Disaster Management Information System (DMIS).

Strengthening emergency response

  • DDM should work closely with ICIMOD, which is Data Analysis Node of Sentinel Asia
  • DDM should become an Authorised User of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters
  • UN-SPIDER may help DDM to access satellite images through its network in case of disasters when the International Charter and Sentinel Asia is not activated.
  • DDM should consider having bilateral arrangements with India (SAARC Framework), Japan, and China to source satellite images during emergencies as well as during normal situations.
  • Integration of satellite images with DMIS during emergency response for decision making.
  • Information sharing channel and calls for “Standing Orders during emergencies” should be clear.

Bhutan National Land Commission

The commission is the principle agency for mapping and surveying in Bhutan, which maintains the topographic sheets as well as surveying agendas in general.



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Bhutan National Statistics Bureau

The National Statistics Bureau (NSB) aims to provide timely, relevant and reliable statistics, consistent with international principles and standard for effective decision making and monitoring.

More information: NSB


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Bhutan National Soil Survey Centre

National Soil Service Center (NSSC) was created in the 8th Five Year Plan period (1997-2002) and reports directly to the Department of Agriculture (DoA) under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). The centre has the responsibility of providing technical services for soil and soil fertility management.

More information: NSSC


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Bhutan Ministry of Economic Affairs

The Ministry of Trade & Industry, which was subsequently renamed as Ministry of Economic Affairs was established in 1967.The aim of the MoEA is to promote a green and self reliant economy sustained by an IT enabled knowledge society guided by the philosophy of GNH.

More information: Ministry of Economic Affairs


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Bhutan Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS)

The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) was established in 2003 with the two main technical Departments, Department of Roads and the Department of Urban Development and Engineering Services. The MoWHS is in charge of formulating policies and developing plans related to the countries physical infrastructure.

More information: MoWHS


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Bhutan Department of Disaster Management (DDM)

The Department of Disaster Management (DDM), established in 2008 under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA), leads all DRM activities in the Bhutan. The vision of DDM is to promote, support and facilitate disaster management to reduce disaster risks in Bhutan.

More information: DDM


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UN-SPIDER Updates July 2014

Issue Date: 

Mon, 04/08/2014

In this issue:

UN-SPIDER at a glance



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