Thimphu, June 18, 2019 – Development of urban areas in Bhutan can contribute to sustained economic growth and provide for safe and resilient cities with affordable housing, if it is supported by smart policies and investments, says new World Bank report titled “Bhutan Urban Policy Notes”.
The spatial-economic transformation in Bhutan is largely driven by the economic opportunities offered by its cities. However, Bhutan’s four largest municipalities suffer from inadequate infrastructure and service delivery, shortage of serviced land and affordable housing, and environmental pollution. They lack the livability and competitiveness and fail to provide the required number and quality of jobs for their residents.
Based on the review of policy documents and census and survey data, the new report examines four priority areas such as: regional development, municipal governance and finance, urban resilience, and affordable housing. It provides an assessment of the current policy for each of the four areas and identifies critical challenges that Bhutan may face in harnessing urbanization for sustained economic growth.
The report also provides short- and long-term policy and investment recommendations to address these issues. These include:
- identifying and clarifying the complementary roles of national and local governments in the areas of prioritizing capital investments, improving the overall investment climate, and ensuring equitable access of citizens to basic public services, especially health and education;
- implementing further reforms for decentralization and strengthening of local governments;
- mapping the urban hazards and integrating disaster risk management into the urban planning process, to address growing risks from natural disasters and changing climate; and
- expanding access to quality affordable housing opportunities, inlcuding the quality of construction material and access to basic services.
The Bhutan Urban Policy Notes support the World Bank’s policy dialogue with the government on priority areas outlined in the 12th Five Year Plan. The report’s findings and recommendations were informed through broad consultations and feedback received from the government and civil society representatives.