Poverty Alleviation and Women Empowerment through Tourism development

Poverty Alleviation and Women Empowerment through Tourism development

Nepal
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) was founded in cooperation with 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking Company (3Sisters). EWN provide practical, skill-based training programs combined with gainful employment opportunities, specifically focused on the trekking industry. Responding to the gross inequality of women in Nepal, EWN offers unprecedented opportunities for women from poor, isolated mountainous regions in west Nepal to improve their quality of life.

A research of Karnali, West Nepal on 2003, EWN decided to focus on three major needs areas with possibilities. Agriculture is prime sector due to the food shortage every year. Health issue, many women and children are dieing lack of healthy ...

About You
Contact Information
Title

Ms.

First name

Lucky

Last name

Chhetri

Your job title

Your Job Title

Name of your organization

Empowering Women of Nepal ~ EWN and 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking

Organization type

NGO

Annual budget/currency

Aprox $70,000 US dollars

Mailing address

Post box # 284 Lakeside, Khahare

Telephone number

977 61 462231 / 462066

Postal/Zip Code

Pokhara-6

Country
Email address
Alternative email address

Alternative email address

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Khahare - Lakeside

City

Pokhara-6

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code

Pokhara-6

Country
Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and educational benefit to tourists , Quality of benefit to residents for the destination , Quality of tourism management by destination leadership , Quality of stewardship of the destination.

Organization size

Small (1 to 100 employees)

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Community Organization

Year innovation began

1999

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Indigenous people, Other.

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Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Tourism development for poverty alleviation on the isolated mountain areas providing skills and knowledge with different mission treks to promote destination.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) was founded in cooperation with 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking Company (3Sisters). EWN provide practical, skill-based training programs combined with gainful employment opportunities, specifically focused on the trekking industry. Responding to the gross inequality of women in Nepal, EWN offers unprecedented opportunities for women from poor, isolated mountainous regions in west Nepal to improve their quality of life.

A research of Karnali, West Nepal on 2003, EWN decided to focus on three major needs areas with possibilities. Agriculture is prime sector due to the food shortage every year. Health issue, many women and children are dieing lack of healthy atmosphere. Other is Alternative Income Resources.

We combined our mobile training with above issues on “Women Initiation in Eco-Tourism” to raise awareness on tourism for alternative incomes, health – sanitation, women’s health. Training programs in ecotourism and lodge management teach environmental best practices and how to translate traditional food, culture, and lifestyle into attractive and sustainable, instead of perpetuating the uncontrolled growth which has characterized previous development in Nepal. Promoting Eco-tourism helps local to involve in tourism without losing their cultural identities or damaging the environment. EWN is promoting destination with organizing Women trek for peace and development.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

EWN aims to give local communities knowledge and skills to ensure a better, more optimistic future in a sustainable way. Every person has own particular strengths and talent, but many Nepali women have never had the opportunity to discover this. Living in isolated mountainous areas is a very hard and physically challenging life. Women are poorly educated, literacy levels are low and their life expectancy is well below that of men. They need opportunities and moral support to learn new things. Given the chance to discover their own hidden talents increases their confidence in themselves and motivates them for the future. Women trekking guides were previously unheard of in Nepal. Through EWN/3Sisters work, we have introduced a new profession in adventure tourism for women. While 3Sisters promotes new trekking routes in west Nepal, we work with communities along these routes, advising how to develop amenities for sustainable geotourism while improving their own standard of living, protecting their culture/environment. We encourage them to take control and decide for themselves what needs to be done. We are working with a poor, remote village, Ghare in Mugu(west Nepal), to develop it as a sustainable trekking destination - a model for other communities.

Impact
Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Women are empowered through participation in our training programs: acquire income-earning skills; interact with world; discover own strengths(critically important in a culture where women have been consistently marginalised); show visible changes in confidence, independence, professional skills. The training programs have encouraged keen interest among women wanting to be involved in tourism and benefit from the income-earning opportunities. In 2008 EWN opened an office in Jumla, west Nepal, to reach as many women there as possible, particularly in more isolated mountain communities where skills-based training in ecotourism related topics would particularly benefit women previously with no access to education, training and income-earning opportunities. While 3Sisters promotes new trekking routes in west Nepal, EWN provides training courses along these new routes.
The government is now interested in tourism development in west Nepal, providing funds to each district. Mugu and Jumla districts in west Nepal have already established district level tourism committees, involving people from all levels of the community.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

In remote west Nepal, training courses in sustainable ecotourism have trained over 150 women in food preparation, health, hygiene, and waste disposal resulting in clear, visible improvements in health and sanitation with communities organizing ongoing village cleanups. Local communities take the initiative, forming district tourism committees, building trails, asking EWN/3Sisters for advice setting up guidelines to promote sustainable tourism development. A resident of Ghare in west Nepal, where we are working with local people to set up a community-run lodge, has attended an EWN lodge management course in Pokhara. 3Sisters provide income-earning opportunities by hiring local trekking staff.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Tourists enjoy the new, unspoilt destinations and untouched culture, also feeling that they are not just visiting for pleasure, but are also supporting poor communities. Women travellers enjoy the interaction with local women, sharing experiences.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Local people had no idea about their potential tourism resources and the importance of preserving their culture and environment. Our training educates residents about cultural/natural heritage, appropriate environmental practices. Conducted by Nepali women, for Nepali women, training has been very effective generating change (better health/hygiene/education) while promoting positive traditions (food/clothing/housing). Travelers appreciate the authentic Nepali living and best practices.

Sustainability
How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Business revenue from 3Sisters and private donations fully funds our trekking guide training programs. Other courses are funded by awards, prizes and international donor organizations.

Permanent staff (full-time) : 5
Permanent staff (part-time) :4
Volunteer staff: 1-4 (varies during the year)

Total budget: Aprox US$70,000

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

Female Trekking Guide Training is fully funded by 3Sisters’ revenue generation/individual private donations. New client business continues growing with strong repeat business, ensuring future funding. EWN’s other training programs and west Nepal office are currently funded by outside sponsors. However, once best practices have been learnt/adopted within communities over some years they should become an integral part of communities continuing in use without further help, effectively becoming self-sustaining with only occasional follow-up courses required. A good example is Annapurna Conservation Area Project – started 1986, it was self-sustaining in approximately 10 years. There is a continuing demand for training programs.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Lack of a training centre prevents us from expanding our training programs and offering more regular training courses. It is difficult to find qualified and skilled permanent staff for the offices and training. Another challenge is that training women trekking guides is a slow process as they need to overcome many internalized social limitations and learn how much they are really capable of. There is a social stigma associated with women working in adventure tourism and also a belief that women are not capable of this. We must overcome women’s negative views of themselves and belief that they are incapable of doing things. Women may take a long time to acquire necessary leadership skills after growing up in traditionally male-dominated culture where women are subservient to men. There is a lack of infrastructure (transport, communications, tourism facilities) in west Nepal and its’ geographical location, far from Kathmandu, can make access problematic. There is a lack of tourist information for west Nepal (maps, brochures, etc.).

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

EWN/3Sisters are exploring/promoting new trekking routes from Pokhara to Humla in west Nepal, covering 6 districts where we will provide training programs and work with local communities to establish a model for positive, sustainable geotourism with minimum negative impact. We will encourage Nepali trekking agencies to operate treks in these undeveloped areas to alleviate poverty and employ trained women (not just men). We are organising development of west Nepal tourism maps/brochures. Each year we organise promotional treks to publicise these destinations. We will organise study tours for groups from west Nepal to see how tourism has developed in the Annapurnas.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

Trekking tourism is a huge industry in Nepal thanks to the Himalayas, but in the early 1990s women trekking guides were unheard of in a male dominated profession. Women worked hard behind the scenes, but control, ownership and money were in the men's hands. Women travelers came from all over the world, while women in Nepal could not even work openly in tourism because of the damage to their reputation. We started a guesthouse in Pokhara and heard women travelers complaining of harassment by male guides and porters. They asked us to guide them. As a trained mountaineer, I and my two sisters started 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking to provide a service run by women for women. However, there were not enough women guides to satisfy demand, because this was an unknown profession for women. Slowly women started asking us for jobs, but due to lack of education, knowledge and skills were not able to guide. Women from mountainous areas in west Nepal are especially disadvantaged due to extreme poverty, surviving in remote, harsh environments. These women are physically strong, used to working all day carrying heavy loads yet earning nothing. We believed they can be excellent trekking guides, earning good money and learning at the same time. Training was needed for these women to give them the necessary skills and knowledge to work as trekking guides. We founded EWN to continue this training and designed a curriculum to meet these requirements. Realizing that women needed to gain experience in the field, we introduced the new concept in Nepal of skills-based training. 3 Sisters provides a paid apprenticeship facility for the women to practice their new-found skills and gain confidence, while also earning money. The women attend as many training courses as necessary until they qualify as guides, allowing each woman to learn at her own pace.
Following the success and continued interest in our trekking guide training programs, we believe that tourism can be used as a development tool to alleviate poverty in the isolated mountain communities of west Nepal. Tourism can be a bridge between the local community and the national/international world.
Realising that not every woman from west Nepal could come to Pokhara for training, we started running mobile training courses in west Nepal – Women’s Initiation in Ecotourism, Lodge Management etc. We realised that these courses were helping and motivating entire communities to become involved in geotourism. This led us to start providing microfinance to enable women to provide tourism services.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Working for an NGO (1986-87), I was assigned to work in western Nepal and was shocked to see how miserable and destitute the rural women’s lives were. I longed to do something to support them. Later I attended the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute’s program which changed my life. Running a guesthouse in Pokhara (1993-1994) with my sisters, solo women travelers complained of harassment from male guides and porters. Learning of my mountaineering training they asked me to guide them in the Himalayas. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking was born, followed by Empowering Women of Nepal - I was finally helping rural women.

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

Mountainous west Nepal is very isolated and the areas in which we are working are only accessible on foot (usually at least several days walk) or by plane. While this has resulted in chronic neglect of the welfare of the residents, it has also meant that the area is culturally unspoilt. Working with local tourism committees means that we have the chance to ensure that communities are transformed into sustainable geotourism destinations while preserving local traditions, culture and the environment. Visitors appreciate the unique, untouched atmosphere and beautiful scenery. The participation of women in providing tourism services in the communities means that women travellers have the chance to interact with local women and learn from them about local culture/traditions. Women trekking with 3Sisters appreciate the unique opportunity to get to know women from another culture as they walk together along the trails. 3Sisters staff are drawn from local communities and can explain the culture and environment encountered along the way. Trekkers appreciate the environmental best practices used on their treks and in the local communities.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

We need to work with local women’s groups/cooperatives to raise awareness and provide tourism training. We want to encourage the creation of tourism businesses through microfinance. Partnerships with international women’s groups can help raise awareness and support for these communities. We want to work closely with community leaders and local tourism committees to prepare the way for local communities to take responsibility and initiate their own plans for the future.