Empowering Communities for Sustainable Nutrition

In the verdant hills of Paro, a symphony of voices echoes through the valleys as Community Resource Persons (CRPs) from five dzongkhags converge for a transformative workshop. Embarking on a two-day journey, these dedicated volunteers are poised to share insights, strategies, and aspirations that extend far beyond the confines of their agricultural projects.

Initiated under the auspices of the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP), in collaboration with the esteemed Food and Agriculture Organization of Bhutan (FAO), this workshop represents a pivotal moment in Bhutan’s ongoing quest for food and nutrition security.

At its core, the workshop endeavors to elucidate the multifaceted roles of CRPs within the Nutrition Behavior Change Communication (BCC) model. This model, meticulously crafted in tandem with FAO, transcends the temporal boundaries of projects, aiming to foster enduring transformations within communities.

CRPs, the unsung heroes of Bhutan’s agricultural landscape, stand as beacons of advocacy and change. Tasked with a myriad of responsibilities—from nurturing nutrition gardens to imparting knowledge on dietary habits and food safety—their tireless efforts ripple through the fabric of society.

Yet, their endeavors do not exist in isolation. The workshop serves as a platform to rally support from the Department of Agriculture, ensuring the perpetuity of the CRP framework. Such continuity is not merely desirable but imperative, harmonizing with Bhutan’s visionary Food and Nutrition Security Policy of 2023.

Since its inception in December 2022, the FSAPP has been a beacon of progress, galvanizing communities towards enhanced dietary diversity and nutrition. Through a meticulous Training-of-Trainers (ToT) approach, CRPs have emerged as catalysts for change, engaging with over 4,550 beneficiaries, with a notable 39 percent representation of female CRPs.

As the project approaches its denouement in December 2024, reflections on its impact reverberate through the workshop halls. Yonten Gyamtsho, the venerable director of the Department of Agriculture, lauds the project’s grassroots endeavors, underscoring its alignment with national imperatives.

Sangay Wangdi, the indefatigable Nutrition and Education Coordinator of FAO, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the need for sustained governmental support post-FAO stewardship. His impassioned plea resonates with the delegates, who bear witness to the tangible benefits wrought by the project—be it in the form of household vegetable gardens or elevated health and sanitation practices.

Amidst the discussions on post-harvest challenges and school feeding programs, the voice of Karma Tamang, a CRP from Chukha, resonates with unwavering conviction. She shares anecdotes of village visits and the gradual metamorphosis of dietary habits—a testament to the potency of community-driven initiatives.

As the workshop draws to a close, a palpable sense of camaraderie pervades the air. Beyond the confines of Paro, a ripple of hope cascades across Bhutan’s emerald landscapes, fueled by the collective resolve of CRPs and stakeholders alike.

In this epochal journey towards sustainable nutrition, every voice, every endeavor, is a vital stitch in the tapestry of progress. And as the sun sets on Paro, it heralds not an end, but a new dawn—a dawn illuminated by the unwavering spirit of community empowerment and resilience.

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