Where We Work - Bhutan

Save the Children in Bhutan

Since 1982, Save the Children's history in Bhutan has been an amazing journey. From small beginnings, today our programs reach children throughout the country and we have become a trusted partner for the government and the community.

Explore Our Programs

Early Childhood Care and Education

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCD) program by piloting a few centers in 2010. So far we have made good progress in initiating the ECCD program which works with 3 to 5 year olds to enhance their development and to better prepare them for school. The Government of Bhutan, constrained by the lack of funding and manpower, has prioritized primary schooling and higher education. This has left a vacuum in the early childhood realm that has compromised young children's development. The Government and the community have welcomed ECCD as a way to address this gap and are appreciative of Save the Children's role in spearheading this initiative.

Newborn Care

Save the Children also shares a deep concern regarding the high newborn mortality rate. Statistics show that neonatal deaths are among the highest in the region, estimated at 38 per 1,000 and accounts for 70 percent of deaths among children in Bhutan. Save the Children will work to save the lives of newborn through programs in the coming years.

Bhutan History

In 2009, the various institutions and mechanisms of the newly elected government took root. It was a momentous year as the country successfully transitioned to a democracy. While the new government remains committed to addressing education and child-related issues, new challenges are emerging in the areas of adolescent development, youth unemployment — that now stands at close to 13 percent — and providing access to basic education to an estimated 12 percent of children living in remote areas of the country.

Flash floods from major rivers in May 2009 caused major destruction to lives and property and jolted the government to take a more serious look at its emergency and disaster management preparedness. Despite significant progress in basic health, education, communication and in harnessing hydropower, close to 70 percent of the population still earns its livelihood through subsistence farming and over 30 percent of people live below the poverty line.

Save the Children started its first program activities in Bhutan in 1982 in the remote community of Edi in southern Zhemgang and today Save the Children programs reach children in all 20 districts. In 2010, Save the Children, in agreement with the Royal Government of Bhutan, began focusing on the following areas:

  • Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Basic Education
  • Adolescent & Youth Development
  • Child Protection

Bhutan Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 725,296
  • Infant Death Rate: 39 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 68 years
  • Poverty Rate: 10%
  • Underweight Children: 12.7%
  • Human Development Rank: 140
  • Maternal Death Risk: 180 deaths/100,000 live births
  • Girls' Education: 11 years
  • Clean Water Access: 96%


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program

Last Updated June 2014

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