|Ugyenmo’s house in Japong village|
Bamboos dying in large numbers on the hills of Jarey gewog in Lhuentse worry villagers, who depend on the plant for roofing and other domestic purposes. About 150 houses in the gewog with 221 households have bamboo roofing, while others use bamboo to roof animal sheds and make products for domestic use.
“Most houses in the gewog have not changed their roofs over three years,” said a villager, Ugyenmo, 66. Normally, villagers redo their roofing once every two years. “The roof is leaking and my house is rotting but we can’t do anything. There’s no bamboo in the forest and we don’t have money to buy other types of roofing,” said Ugyenmo, who lives with her daughter and three grandchildren. She owns a big two-storied traditional house, but the roof has been he same for the last six years.
Villagers have started penetrating into deeper forests, but say there are not many bamboos around. “Whatever’s available is very far and difficult to transport,” said another villager. “We’ve started scaling the other side of Jarey hill in the hope of finding bamboos to re-roof our houses before monsoon sets in.”
Their condition was exacerbated by the recent windstorm in the east that affected Jarey gewog too. About 18 households lost their roofs when the storm hit the gewog on March 18. Villagers said that most of the bamboo used for roofing was damaged and would leak if used again. “We’re really desperate now. The insurance benefits won’t be enough to help us buy CGI sheets or plastic and there’s no bamboo around here,” said a villager, Tenzinla.
Elders in the village said that they have never faced such problems in the past. However, some said they heard that bamboo died after over a hundred years. “This could be what’s happening to our bamboo. It’s a natural thing that we can’t help,” said the gup, Tshering Minjur.
The only hope of the poor villagers is the Thrumshingla park. The gewog is part of the park and two villages of the gewog have been already been issued CGI sheets by the park office. Park officials earlier told gewog officials that they were seeking funds from donors to provide the villagers with CGI sheets.
Until then they will have to bear the rain and the wind.
By: Tshering Palden