“Working towards a Sustainable and Ethical Trekking Industry.”
International Porter Protection Group – Working for the safety of the mountain porter
In 1997, a young Nepali porter employed by a trekking company became severely ill with altitude illness. He was paid off and sent down alone. It took just another 30 hours for him to die….He was 20 years old and left behind a wife and 2 small children.
The International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) was formed to prevent these recurring tragedies.
IPPG’s aim is for every porter to have:
- Access to adequate clothing, boots, shelter and food (appropriate to the altitude and weather)
- Medical care when ill or injured
These aims are achieved by lobbying, education, monitoring and direct action through support of clothing banks, the construction of shelters and rescue posts.
IPPG is run entirely by volunteers with a minimum of bureaucracy. All monies raised are spent directly on our various porter projects or to support other porter NGOs.
The IPGG aims to improve safety and health for porters working in the mountains for the trekking industry worldwide. We work to eradicate avoidable illness, injury and death. We do this by raising awareness of the issues among travel companies, guides, trek leaders, sirdars (porters foremen), and trekkers.
IPPG also supports porters in their quest for a decent wage and freedom from overloading.
IPPG is involved in these activities:
- Educate trekkers on the issue of porter safety through flyers, posters, photo exhibitions, video and media
- Assist with the provision of clothing and footwear for loan through porter clothing banks
- Raise funds for and build porter shelters
- Run an emergency relief fund for injured porters or their dependents
- Lobby government departments
- Encourage travel agents and trekking companies to adopt ethical porter policies
- Maintain and update our website
- Run a porter shelter and rescue post in Machermo (Nepal) on the Gokyo trek to try reduce the death toll in that area
- Organise fundraisers through articles, lectures, documentaries, letter writing, talks, and donations
- Cooperate with other porter NGOs
- Help porters organise their own institutions
- Organise/attend relevant conferences
Has there been any progress?
Since IPPG’s inception in 1997 there have been positive changes. It is slowly becoming less usual to see trekking porters who are not adequately equipped and sheltered. Aid posts and hospitals report that most sick porters are now accompanied by a trekker, sirdar or group leader instead of coming in alone. Governments are voicing an interest in enforcing trekking porter legislation.
Local organizations such as TAAN (Travel Agents Association of Nepal) and the NMA (Nepal Mountaineering Association) are beginning the process of using their prestige to push for necessary changes.
Other Porter NGOs
- CAN (Community Action Nepal) has built porter shelters and is committed to building schools and health posts in villages that benefit porters.
- KEEP (Kathmandu Environmental Education Project) is setting up a porter clothing bank in Kathmandu and intend to expand their involvement in porter issues.
- KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) works for fair treatment of the porters and provides clothing and education.
- IMEC (International Mountain Explorers Connection) works in education and porter clothing in Peru and Tanzania.
- PPUK (Porter Progress UK) is supporting porter projects in Nepal.
- Tourism Concern (UK) have been a potent lobby group working with travel agents and trekking companies.
We all have different approaches, projects and policies. Yet we are all working for the same common goal and support each other’s efforts.