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Tingri County is rich in tourism resources and also home to Mt. Everest. The number of tourists coming to QNNP is increasing rapidly year by year. Tingri County town and neighboring villages like Baiba are on the way that tourists go to the base camp of Mt. Everest. Food and beverage and hotel service is one of the biggest income sources for local economy. Although the number of restaurants and hotels is increasing, local people can only find basic jobs such as dishwashing and labor work. Additionally, local people’s capacity of running restaurants and hotels is also low; they lack of specialties to attract tourists compared to businessmen from inland China. Therefore, enhancing local people’s capacity in cooking and service skills becomes important, and it is also one of the key components of project funded by LAO NIU Foundation.
Social organizations help governments in many a way, and they also contribute to building a harmonious society. Endorsed by the Tingri County Chief, Mr. Dunzhu, the Pendeba Society partnered with County Human Resources Bureau to organized a one-month tourism service and cooking skill training since July 3, 2013. On the opening ceremony, Mr. Nidun, County Human Resources Bureau Chief, addressed the importance of the training, encouraging the participants to cherish the opportunity, learn carefully and gain experience to increase income, and change their life. In the meantime, the participants will also contribute to the human resources pool for the county’s tourism development. To ensure training outcomes, the Society has invited well-known chef Mr. Mima Tsering as the trainer. Mr. Mima Tsering once worked for the 10th Panchen Lama and also served as trainer in the past trainings held by the Pendeba Society. Mr. Mima Tsering, with decades of experience, is very responsible and hard working in passing on his experience and expertise to our participants, and we were happy to have him to be our trainer again. In terms of participant selection, we also demanded high and have carefully selected 20 tourism practitioners in QNNP for the training. The training was extended to a month from original 10 days. With previous experience, we aim to equip our trainees with pragmatic skills and know-how, hoping to bring positive outcomes for the tourism development as well as increasing employment in Tingri County. During the training, the participants also learned about ecotourism and hospitality service manners. This will contribute much to the tourism human resources pool for the Mt. Everest National Park, fulfilling the strategic goal of putting people first.
From June 14 to 18, 2013, the Pendeba Society organized a five-day training on capacity building for local QNNP community leaders - the Pendebas. The training was held in the Pendeba Training Center in Tingri County. 10 village leaders and 10 women leaders from wetlands project-concerned villages participated in the training. In order to better conduct the training and ensure training results, we applied participatory method and open-ended forum, where participants could have free discussion and share experience and success stories with each other.
This training has continued previous modules, aiming at promoting sustainable and participatory community development, and increasing village leaders’ capacity in ecological conservation, public health, proposal development, project monitoring and evaluation and HIV/AIDS prevention. Pendebas are mediators between the Society and communities, and also are implementers of the specific projects, representing the Pendeba Society in their respective communities. During the implementation phase and follow-up management, Pendebas are the catalysts that continuously help promote sustainable development in QNNP.
The residents of QNNP are both protectors and stakeholders of the preserve. A better conserved QNNP cannot develop without active participation of local people. And they need to be familiar with the environment where they reside. Therefore, the Society has arranged a component to introduce QNNP in-depth to the training participants, and have them express their ideas on how to address issues and problems facing QNNP at present. The projects, implemented by the Society, such as sheep corral transformation, farmlands and wetlands conservation projects, have produced positive impact on reducing conflicts between natural resources conservation and community livelihoods development. Though traditional wetlands-block built sheep corrals are still prevailing, the Society has successfully mobilized local communities to transform traditional corrals into rock and stone-built ones. The transformed corrals are environmentally friendly and endurable. Villagers do not need repeated labor input for rebuilding/reinforcing the traditional ones. The projects have received support from local people and also attained the goal of environmental conservation. During the training, we took the projects as an entry point to explain and illustrate the importance of environmental conservation. By using actual cases and stories, it was easier for the participants to understand and raise their awareness of environmental conservation, which achieved a bottom-up conservation results.
As the economy develops, migrant workers are increasing year by year, which increases the chances for them to get exposed to HIV/AIDS risks. Therefore, during the training, we also introduced knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention. Most participants have little knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Two out of 20 participants have heard of HIV/AIDS prevention, and the others have never heard of the disease. It becomes significant to give introduction of HIV/AIDS prevention know-how to local villagers, and have them conduct relevant campaigns to educate more villagers about the disease. The participants discussed their strategies and steps to conduct such campaigns with the help of experts. At the end of the training, the participants have gained much knowledge about community health education and HIV/AIDS prevention. The expert also emphasized the significance of using social catalysts to address social issues, which shows the important role of social organizations in HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental conservation.
On February 8, 2013, the Pendeba Society has successfully received support from the Ministry of Civil Affairs to implement a project that offers medical support including precious traditional Tibetan medicine to local villagers living in border areas in QNNP. As a grassroots organization, the Pendeba Society is appreciative of the support from the central government. Through implementing this project, we aim to promote the role of social organizations in serving the society, increasing social services, improving livelihoods, and promoting socialism and building harmonious society.
In order to better implement the project, fulfill its expected results and ensure fair benefit, the Pendeba Society, together with local government and community leaders, started the project on May 16th, 2013 when the busy agricultural production season can be avoided. Tsering Norbu, Executive Director of the Society and Gingko Fellow of Narada Foundation, led the implementation of the project. The project aims to address difficulties in medical treatment and facilities for pour local villagers living in remote areas.
During this project, the Pendeba Society invited Mr. Tashi Tsering as chief doctor. Mr. Tashi Tsering is the former director of Nyalam County Hospital/Nyalam County Health Bureau, who holds 38-year experience in practicing medicine. The Society also brought many famous and precious traditional Tibetan medicines to the project sites for local villagers who could come for medical diagnose and consultation.
Mr. Tashi Tsering carefully diagnosed each villager who came for medical consultation and medicine. For those who could not move easily, the project staff would come in their home, and gave them medical check and medicine. Many villagers came for medical check. In order to ensure fair treatment and effectiveness of the project, the Society has made relevant lists to record the medicine distribution history. Many villagers have expressed their gratitude to the project. “I have only heard of some of the medicines since I was born, but I have never had them before,” one old man murmured, “now you sent these medicines to my home, and finally I could see and have them. How could not I be so excited?!”
After 10-day arduous traveling, the Society has provided medical check service and medicines for over 2500 villagers in 10 villages in QNNP. The project has better addressed some difficulties of local villagers to get medical consultation and medicines, and gained much praise. The Society has traveled more than 4000 km so far for the project, and will continue the project in Gyerong, Tingkey and Tingri Counties, offering service for over 3000 villagers in the region.
In order to better promote the project, the Society has made posters in both Chinese and Tibetan, and before each service, the staffer also introduced the background of the project to have local villagers better understand the project. The Society will keep updating the project activities through various means including website and Weibo, letting more people know what is happening on the ground.
The Second China Social Innovation Award 2012 announced its Awardees on December 22, 2012 in Beijing. After presentation and debate, based on application materials and survey report conducted by the organizers, 10 projects were conferred with China Social Innovation Award 2012, with other 14 projects as finalists.
The Ceremony was chaired by Prof. He from China Central Compilation & Translation Bureau. Deputy Director of the Bureau, Mr. YU Keping, and Deputy Director of Civil Organization Administration Bureau, Mr. LIU Zhenguo addressed on the ceremony. Around 200 representatives from government, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, awardee organizations, and other organizations attended the ceremony. From the start of the Award program in July 2012 to the deadline of the submission on September 30, 2012, the organizer has received 249 applications from 30 regions and provinces across China. And the project submitted by the Pendeba Society, “Pendeba Nature Conservation and Community Development” has won an excellence award. Tsering Norbu, Executive Director of the Society went to Beijing on behalf of the Society to present the project and received the Award.
“China Social Innovation Award aims to discover and encourage innovated actions to address social issues, meet social needs, create social values and promote social progress,” said Mr. YU, “and it can draw lessons from and disseminate good practices of China’s social innovation, and promote social fairness and good governance. This Award has attached great attention from across the nation and receives support from the civil affairs departments and social organizations.”
The list of 2012 Ginkgo Fellows was announced by the Narada Foundation in Beijing on Oct. 12th, 2012. Tsering Norbu, Executive Director of the Pendeba Society, and other 16 outstanding NPO leaders became the 2012 Gingko Fellows. In the next three years, each of them will get 100,000 RMB of funds per year as the personal growth funds which could be used to improve their personal life and expenditures for learning and business trip. They will also get support such as regular overseas tour, peer collaboration, experts mentor resources.
The Ginkgo Fellow Program is started in 2010 by Narada Foundation. It is a long-term program aiming to help young people overcome obstacles in self-development and become leaders to promote certain charity fields in the future. Narada Foundation planned to invest some 100 million RMB in next 10 years on this program. The main beneficiaries are leaders or founders of grassroots organizations, scholars, media professionals, individual activists. Future leaders of NGOs are also included. This program also advocates that the whole society to support talents in public sector and to build up supporting system for them.
The QNNP is known as the Third Pole of the Earth, and it is freezing cold during the winter. In order to warm up QNNP's school children in winter, the Pendeba Society has applied to the Snoopy Love Foundation and was donated 2000 winter coats, 2000 scarfs, 300 sweaters and 200 hats, which were distributed to 2000 more poor school children in QNNP's four counties. To ensure fair distribution, the Society has consulted with local governments and communities to identify the most needing villages and schools to receive the donation. During the course of the distribution, the Society was in charge of transportation, distribution and outreach activities of the donated clothes. We also invited local TV to report the event to make it more known across the region. In the meantime, we also updated our project via various channels including Weibo to ensure a trustful and faire distribution.
Representatives from the Foundation were invited to join the distribution event, and they expressed their continued support to the project. In the later days, with local stakeholders, the Society organized distribution activities in the identified schools, and gave the clothes in the hands of school children. Because the project covered a large area, and the Society was monitoring the whole event, the project lasted for 2 months. The Society visited each identified schools and gave the clothes, and made detailed donation record. According to the types of the donated clothes, we identified the villages and number of school children to form a donation list. With each school's location and we decided the time to distribute the clothes among nearby villages. Each child was given a winter coat and scarf, while for poorer children; they were given a hat and sweater more. After the distribution, we also collected all the package trash to set examples for students to care about the environment.
By Jan 6, 2013, with help from local government and communities, the donated winter cloths were successfully distributed. The work was highly recognized by local people and governments. Concerned villagers and children also got to know the Pendeba Society better, and it helped us gain more support from the communities in our future projects. In the meantime, the Society also took chances to conduct need assessment with local government and village leaders to gather information for our future projects.
In early August, 2012, the Pendeba Society reached agreement on transforming traditional sheep corrals projects with 5 villages (Enba, Chaga, Chazi, Didong, Meimu and Nailong) in Tingri and Nyalam Counties with support from local governments and communities. Except Nailong and Chaga Villages, the other four villages have completed the projects based on the communities’ practical situation and schedule. In total 64 sites of sheep corrals have been successfully transformed into new ones and put into use before winter arrived.
Currently, most of local villagers still use traditional sheep corrals that are built by earth blocks dug from the wetlands. By doing so, local ecological environment is easily destructed and the sheep corrals are also less endurable and sustainable. To help end such situation, it matters a lot for the quality of sheep corrals after the transformation. The Society encouraged villagers to rebuild the corrals by rocks and stones. In villages where there is a lack of stones, they could use earth bricks. Sheep corrals that are built of rocks or earth bricks will be more endurable and sustainable for lasting use.
The Society designed and implemented the projects according to the communities’ needs and demands, and compensated the villagers for their work. The Society has always been refusing to compensate local labor input with cash, which we think it will not only lead local villagers to depend more on government and other sponsors, but it also jeopardize the sustainability of the projects. Hence, the Society seeks to meet local communities’ practical needs in terms of livelihoods materials in exchange for their labor input. This will better address the problems facing the locals, as well as ensuring sustainability of the projects.
By the end of 2012, the Society will implement the compensation schemes. For Chazi and Didong villagers, they will transform the sheep corrals collectively and benefit collectively thereafter. Led by the village chefs, the villagers started transforming the corrals all together. Based on the needs and assessment of the two villages, the villagers will receive milk segregators and furniture, respectively in compensation of their labor input. For Meimu and Enba villages, the sheep corral owners will implement the rebuilding individually. The Society will compensate participating villagers with TV sets and materials such as winter fabric covering the corrals so that they can provide better protection for livestock to get through cold winter.
On August 28, 2012, staff of the Pendeba Society went on a survey to Zhaguo Town of Tingri County to identify project site where conventional sheep corrals will be transformed. After consulting with local township officials, not only had we received support from local government, we also got to know the villages that have large areas of conventional sheep corrals needed to be transformed. We surveyed some of the villages including Zhaguo, Jialong, Meimu, and Chaga Villages, and identified two project sites, namely Meimu and Chaga, where there are urgent needs to transform their conventional sheep corrals.
In the morning, accompanied by village chiefs of Meimu, we went to the riverside to examine the sheep corrals, during which we introduced our project and the importance of wetlands, we also got to know there are 18 sheep corrals in the village that require transformation. Though some of the corrals have been transformed into ones half-stone and half-earth brick, they still need reinforcement. Nonetheless, many sheep corrals are still constructed conventionally by digging out wetland earth blocks, and they are collapsing due to poor maintenance. After consulting with village chiefs and listening to their needs, we have designed a project plan that owners of the corrals provide labor for corral transformation while the Pendeba Society provides materials such as winter fabric covering the corrals so that they can provide better protection for livestock to get through cold winter. In the meantime, we also came out with an incentive plan that those who do a good job in the project will be rewarded after the final evaluation. This will also motivate villagers, and help achieve the results in a successful manner. The project will transform 18 sheep corrals, from which over 400 villagers and 4600 livestock will benefit.
In the afternoon, we went on to the other village, Chaga. In the course of talking with village chiefs, we also introduced our visit and project, and consulted about the village’s needs. The chiefs were all in favor of our projects, and stated their needs, i.e., building a watercourse that feeds water into hillside farmlands behind the village for irrigation during spring sowing season. Due to unfavorable climate and geological conditions, this area faces floods during the raining season, while the sandy soil cannot hold water from wellspring in mountains. Together with lacking of irrigation infrastructures, they impose negative impacts on the village’s agricultural production. During the spring sowing season in particular, there is less rain and the sandy soil will have absorbed the water from wellspring before it reaches the farmland, causing water shortage for irrigation.
Though there are irrigation infrastructures and a large reservoir under construction near the village, it still needs more funds for the village to build a watercourse that can feeds water into small reservoirs near the hillside farmlands. Also, summer floods can be better controlled and channeled off to the large reservoir for storage, providing water for the farmlands downstream. And the staff of the Pendeba Society did a survey to the hillside farmlands, and together with the village chiefs carefully planed the project. Finally, we agreed to transform 10 conventional sheep corrals while building a irrigation watercourse for the village’s hillside farmlands. This project will ensure irrigation water for around 100 mu (around 6.7 ha) farmlands to safeguard agricultural production, and transform conventional sheep corrals to protect wetlands, from which over 260 villagers and 3000 livestock will benefit.
We truly appreciate the generous support from LAO NIU Foundation, while in the meantime, we also thank Zhaguo Government and concerned communities for their continued support and cooperation on these projects.
In the afternoon of August 13, 2012, TAR’s Department of Civil Affairs held a meeting on progress report of State-funded social welfare projects and a ceremony to confer Social Organization Grade Evaluation certificates on outstanding social organizations of Tibet Autonomous Region. Mr. XIAO Bai, Vice Department chief chaired the meeting, and Mr. JIA Xiaojiu, Vice Director of State Bureau of NGO Administration, attended the meeting and gave a keynote speech. In his speech, Mr. JIA mentioned that social organizations are government’s right hand, and it signifies much to cultivate and oster social organizations. He also delivered six requirements to the organizations that received state grants to implement social welfare projects, namely, 1) projects need to solve the most urgent needs of local communities, and benefit local people; 2) implementing scale and scope of the projects should be well handled; 3) Subletting and inappropriate bonus rewards are prohibited; 4); all documents related to the projects should be well kept; 5) project closing should be well managed; and 6) let projects play a leading role in promoting social welfare. Mr. JIA also introduced the background of the State Social Welfare Project Grants Program, and emphasized the importance of this program, which is in accordance to central government’s direction on cultivating and fostering social organizations. If this program has succeeded and reached its goals, and local people have really benefited, it is very possible that this grants program will be incorporated into the central government’s annual budget, which will ensure grants, and more local people, especially local Tibetan communities will benefit.
Mr. Sonam Louguo, Director of TAR’s Bureau of NGO Administration, introduced the establishment of TAR’s social organizations, current challenges and future improvement measures. Mr. YU Yonglong, Vice Director of State Bureau of NGO Administration attended this meeting as well. Five social organizations from TAR that are conferred 5 A Grade (top grade) of Social Organization Grade Evaluation of TAR were invited to attend the meeting. Representatives of these five organizations also presented their project progress to all the attendees. At last, Mr. JIA and Mr. XIAO conferred the 5 A Grade certificates upon the Pendeba Society, TAR Charity Federation, Tibet Ecology and Environment Foundation and other two organizations. They also encouraged these organizations to keep up with great work, and contribute more to better future of TAR. Mr. Tsering Norbu, on behalf of the Pendeba Society, received the certificate.
The wetlands along Pengqu River are some of the most important wetlands in QNNP, and they are also natural grassland for livestock. These wetlands conserve rich biological and ecological diversity as the preserve’s natural resources. Complex environmental and climatic conditions also result in diverse flora various types of grassland, which demonstrate a microprint of QNNP’s grassland, and feed for livestock in the region. It means much for better conserving and utilizing these wetlands given the place’s important green gene bank as well as beautiful nature endowments. However, there are many corrals along the river that are made of mud dug from the wetlands. There are no measures to reinforce these conventional corrals and the mud does not bind tight. When there are heavy rains in summer, these corrals would fall apart easily. It is very difficult for grassland of high altitude to restore balance, not to mention that these grasses were eradicated. Hence, damages due to these conventional corrals are lasting and irrevocable. In the meantime, rebuilding and repairing these corrals also require much labor input from local communities, which may repeat year after year.
In this regard, the Pendeba Society, with generous support from Lao Niu Foundation, plans to transform conventional corrals along Pengqu River into earth brick or stone corrals, which will better protect the wetland ecosystems in QNNP. Therefore, from August 1st to 8th, 2012, staff from the Pendeba Society went on a survey about conventional corrals in Chazi, Didong, Cangmuda, Dongba and Enba Villages in Tingri County and Daqu and Nailong Village in Nyalam County. Coordinated by village chiefs and leaders, with some of them being our Pendebas, our staff had a close investigation of conservation conditions of wetlands along the river, and examined usage changes of grassland resources as well as soil erosion and degradation. Through the survey, we have found that damages to the wetlands have been severe. Though it has been banned for years to dig wetlands, there are still large areas of destroyed wetlands in the region, which imposes enormous pressure on wetland conservation in QNNP.