Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project Update

By Karen Valenti, Program Manager

The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), an initiative of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC), is a Tanzanian NGO whose focus is improving the distressing working conditions of the porters on Kilimanjaro.  We do this by:

  • Lending donated clothing at no charge to the porters who are climbing Kilimanjaro
  • Providing FREE classes for the benefit of the porters, such as English, First Aid, HIV/AIDS Awareness, and Money Management
  • Educating the public on the impoverished porter conditions and Proper Porter Treatment

In 2006 KPAP outfitted over 1,200 porters working on Kilimanjaro and now has the capacity to provide clothing and gear to 300 porters at a time.  Classes for the porters in 2006 centered on the “Training of Trainers” First Aid Instructor Course in which 13 porters and KPAP’s Office Manager were certified as First Aid Instructors.  This is the first occasion in which the porter population will be the target to be given this crucial information. So far 82 porters have received first aid certification.  Class offerings in English, HIV/AIDS Awareness, and Money Management served 930 porters in attendance in 2006.

Partnership for Responsible Travel Program

 

Buoyed by its success with the Partnership for Responsible Travel, which works with international tour operators who have committed to promoting proper porter treatment, IMEC recently started the Kilimanjaro Local Partner Program. The new program, based out of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project’s office, focuses on the performance of local, Kilimanjaro-based outfitters, monitoring their work to ensure that partners abide by IMEC’s Guidelines for Proper Porter Treatment.

Since the program got off the ground in January 2006, seven Tanzania-based tour operators have signed on. In doing so, they have agreed that they will pay their porters full tips and the minimum wages established by the Kilimanjaro National Park and the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators; that porter loads will not exceed 25 kilos at any point in the trip; that porters will be given adequate clothing, equipment, shelter, food and water; and that sick or injured porters will be properly cared for.

They also agree to let KPAP staff and volunteers conduct interviews with company employees, client surveys and porter questionnaires, observe climbing groups on the mountain, and review climber briefing materials and tipping procedures to ensure that the companies are living up to their commitments to their porters.

In June 2006, KPAP received the Chief Park Warden’s permission to play a monitoring role at the gates by observing the weighing of the bags and distributing questionnaires to porters regarding their last job on Kili.  331 porter questionnaires with 59 Companies represented were collected from July 1 – Nov. 30, 2006.  When the information from 11 companies who are part of IMEC’s Partner for Responsible Travel Program are removed, the average salaries are:

Marangu Route                       Camping Routes

Survey reports:        3,946Tsh                                 3,875Tsh

vs.

Minimum wage*:      6,000Tsh                                 8,000Tsh

*The members of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators agreed upon the minimum wage payment effective July 1, 2006.

In addition KPAP observed that only seven of 131 climbing groups’ bags weighed in at the 25 kg maximum weight—some bags were up to 12 kgs over and, on average, bags that passed through the gate were 2 kg overweight.

IMEC encourages individuals who are looking to climb in Nepal or Tanzania with local or international guiding outfits to visit our website and choose partner companies who have agreed to follow IMEC’s basic, humane standards of porter treatment (www.mountainexplorers.org).  For the specifics of porter treatment on Kilimanjaro, please visit KPAP’s website www.kiliporters.org.

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