News from Tourism Concern
Kathmandu Environmental Education Project – Protecting mountain porters from the elements
Posted: Aug 1, 2012
As a result of Tourism Concern's ground-breaking campaign, Trekking Wrongs: Porters' Rights, over half of UK trekking tour operators adopted our code of conduct for improved working conditions for mountain porters.
However conditions for mountain porters in Nepal are still far from perfect, as DB Gurung from the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project reports.
Nepal attracts around 700,000 tourists annually, many of whom come to the Himalaya mountains to climb Everest and other major peaks.
These tourists and their tour companies hire local porters to carry their bags, tents and equipment so that tourists can climb unhindered by the heavy loads. The local porters play a vital role in making these climbing trips easier for the tourists but they are largely unseen and are often seriously neglected.
The porters can carry weights of over 50kg to very high altitudes in snow wearing only sandals and thin jumpers. If they fall ill, and the regularly do, they are left on the mountainside and sent down the mountain alone. These poor and ill-educated local people are unaware of their rights and are prepared to work for very little.
Recognising these many unheard and bruised voices of porters, the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) has endeavoured to be the “voice” of Porters in Nepal since its establishment in 1992.
In addition to advocacy KEEP offers various training courses and workshops for porters’ welfare and to bring awareness among the tourists and tourism professionals in Nepal.
In 2011 KEEP introduced an awareness workshop held in Kathmandu. Keep later realized the program would achieve a greater impact if it took the workshops to Porters in their regions, as many of them could not visit Kathmandu due to economic reasons.
This proved to be a successful strategy when in 2012 a workshop was conducted in a remote village of the Langtang region and was attended by a total of 75 porters, many more than expected. This KEEP program was supported by the Intrepid Foundation and Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism (SST Foundation).
The main objectives of KEEP’s 2012 workshops were to educate porters with practical knowledge and transfer skills needed for them to improve their professionalism. For 2013 and 2014, KEEP aims to hold such workshops in the Everest and Annapurna region, the most visited destinations in Nepal. However, doing this very much depends upon the support received from national and international supporters.
The KEEP clothing bank needs your support!
Many Nepalese porters die every year n the harsh climatic mountains of Nepal due to inadequate clothing and lack of safety. Often they lose self-respect due to improper treatment. To help address this dire situation, KEEP has set up the Porters Clothing Bank (PCB) to work more effectively on the issues of Porters welfare with support from the International Porters Protection Group (IPPG) and other international organisations.
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