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7th Virtual Clinic Zooms in on Designing Green, Resilient and Affordable Housing in Bhutan

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In partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) of Bhutan, CDIA organized a Virtual Clinic on 02 March 2022. A total of 21 officials attended, representing ADB, NHDCL and the Bhutanese cities of Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Nganglam, Samdrup Jongkhar and Trashiyangtse.

The 7th installment of the CDIA Virtual Clinic provided a venue to raise the level of engagement of the five cities in preparation for the start of the ADB-supported Green and Resilient Affordable Housing Sector Project (GRAHSP). It aims to bring affordable and climate-resilient housing to the residents of the five cities. CDIA is supporting the government through an advisory and capacity development assistance to achieve the objectives of the GRAHSP.

“The CDIA Virtual Clinic today is the first and formal introduction between NHDCL and the cities; and [by] their active participation, we are very optimistic that implementation at a later stage of this affordable housing project will go very smoothly,” said Sonam Choden, Officiating Chief Executive Officer of NHDCL.

“I would also like to thank CDIA and ADB for conducting this insightful and interactive platform for all of us to come together – for you to get to know more about Bhutan and for us to understand the role of CDIA in this whole process. The session has been very informative with lots of specific examples from across Asia and we look forward to continue receiving your support as we take this project forward,” she added.

Sonam Choden presented the general housing crisis in Bhutan, followed by discussions on specific housing challenges in each of the five cities.

In her presentation, CDIA Capacity Development Specialist Kathleen Jovellanos emphasized the need for institutional strengthening and provided entry points for integrating it into project implementation. Program Manager Ramon Abracosa and Urban Development Specialist Fabienne Perucca also introduced the climate resilience framework, and offered options for resilience measures and methodologies for planning resilient and affordable housing, taking into account the specific challenges that each city is facing.

ADB Principal Urban Development Specialist Arnaud Heckmann provided his insights on the implementation of the Ulaanbaatar Green Affordable Housing and Resilient Urban Renewal Project in Mongolia. This ongoing ADB-funded project seeks to develop 10,000 housing units and redevelop 100 hectares of gers (portable dwellings) into eco-districts featuring ample public spaces and maximizing renewable energy use, among others.

Since Bhutan shares similar urban housing challenges with Mongolia, Mr. Heckmann’s presentation provided an opportunity for a peer learning exchange. It  provided valuable insights and lessons for the Bhutanese government as it ramps up efforts to provide green, resilient and affordable housing in the selected cities.

“CDIA’s Virtual Clinic today has shown us how we can design this Green and Resilient Affordable Housing project with invigorating discussion and dialogues with the beneficiary cities themselves,” said Jude E. Kohlhase, Unit Head, Project Administration, South Asia Regional Department of ADB and Project Officer of GRAHSP.

“The cities’ active participation in today’s clinic has demonstrated a strong sense of ownership and commitment to get something done through our engagement. It’s truly pleasing for ADB to work closely with CDIA and use the next 6-9 months to develop a true customized approach for Bhutan, acknowledging that the climate risks and land scarcity are quite severe,” he added.

Since 2021, CDIA has been implementing virtual clinics, a unique capacity development opportunity for secondary cities in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to get direct feedback on prioritizing and pursuing tangible urban infrastructure projects. They were made possible with support from the European Union.

Download: CDIA Virtual Clinic 7 – Wrap-up Report.

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