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Himalayan Homestays in Ladakh_ India

VIEWS: 70 PAGES: 15

									Himalayan Homestays
       in India




Funds requested for January-December 2004




                    1
Summary
“A traditional village-based Himalayan Homestay would maintain and share a traditional
way of life and its values, provide traditional food, be based on eco-friendly concepts and
require small amounts of investment for renovation not building”.

With the above definition as a guiding concept, Himalayan Homestays aims to:
1. Ensure that hosts-
           o have developed the unique mountain experience;
           o are obtaining a fair return for their services and investment;
2. Ensure that homestays contribute to conserving local cultural and natural heritage; and
3. Create a distinctive, authentic, reliable, tourist accommodation and experience – homestay
   packages – for visitors in the world’s highest mountain range

Key activities during the project period 2004 will include: supporting existing Homestay in quality
control, training for parachute café operators, supporting CBT development in new sites in Spiti and
Ladakh,; community planning and training for homestay development and management, nature and
cultural guides; continuing product promotion; refining and distributing interpretation and
supporting materials; monitoring and evaluation, and; discussions on the sustainability of Homestay
operations.

Key anticipated achievements of the project during 2004 would include a) recognition for homestays
as an authentic and reliable visitor experience that improves the lives and heritage of mountain
communities, b) up to 40 participating households in Ladakh (homestays and other related activities)
c) continued visitor and host satisfaction with homestays, and d) expansion of Homestays and
related community-based tourism activities to Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, d) preliminary strategy for
local management of Himalayan Homestays.

Project partners will include Snow Leopard Conservancy, MUSE and the All Spiti Youth
Association, local communities and selected Leh-based and other tour operators who will work
together to help develop homestays, related activities such as guide services and market linkages.
Among the project collaborators, there is a genuine commitment to participatory planning of
community-based tourism. This approach known as Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action
(APPA) seeks to build upon existing strengths, experience and values. Himalayan Homestays is an
opportunity to build upon and complement existing tourism activities with a focus on poorer
households, to enhance the visitor experience and develop an innovative brand of tourism –
homestays and related services.




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1. Tourism Status in Project Sites

Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir)
From very few visitors in 2002, Ladakh experienced a record season in 2003. By August 24, it was
estimated that that over 23,000 tourists had visited Ladakh with 13,000 international visitors and
over 10,000 Indians. These are the highest figures since the area was opened to tourism in the late
1970s. While there was a significant impact on the Ladakhi economy, the data also highlighted the
challenges of managing relatively high numbers of visitors in a short season. These included intense
bargaining and competition, unregulated movement in remote and fragile areas, tension around the
behaviour of certain groups of visitors and the local population, and inadequate infrastructure. In
this context, the value of initiatives such as Himalayan Homestays with its focus on generating local
benefits and encouraging responsible behaviour by visitors and hosts alike is important for the
example it sets in terms of design and management. For project partners the 2003 tourist season,
and the planning for it, was extremely hectic but rewarding.

Spiti (Himachal Pradesh)
Due to the lack of year-round access and cold, the tourist season in Lahaul and Spiti lasts just three
months, from June through August. Winter snows close the trunk road from the main Manali-Leh
route from October through late April or May. Intermittent year-round access is provided from
Kinnaur along the lower elevation Sutlej valley, but this area lies close to the Chinese border and a
special “Inner Line” permit is required (issued only to groups of 4 or more foreigners).

During the period, June 15 to July 31, 2003, some 340 persons entered the district, while 380 left
(coming into the district from Kinnaur) according to records of the Lossar check-post. These and
other check-post records are not formally compiled, but total visitation estimates range from 500 to
1,000 foreign visitors for 2001. The number of tourists in 2003 was significantly higher than 2002,
when the USA and European countries issued blanket travel warnings for India.

The most common foreign nationality was Israeli, followed by French, Germans and other
Europeans. The number of Indian visitors was not recorded, but anecdotal information suggests
small numbers of college students, although Tabo seems to receive Indians who come in via
Kinnaur (especially Army and Government officials).

The main Indian travel agents operating in the area are from Manali, Delhi and Ladakh, with
transportation services dominated by Himachal Pradesh tourist taxis.

1.1. Threats
Primary threats to continued conservation of the Trans-Himalaya’s cultural and natural resources are
loss and degradation of resources, poor economic returns to local people from tourism,
unsustainable economic development, and lack of active policy support for sustainable tourism
development. With local people (and to some extent Leh and Spiti-based operators) receiving
relatively low revenues from tourism, the incentives to participate in the conservation of the
resources on which tourism depends are weaker (see Box 1). Tourists come on organised treks that
are catered for by a team of camp staff belonging to either local or non-local (Delhi, Manali -based)
companies. These trekking groups are accompanied by pack-horses carrying their food and camping
equipment. Other more budget-conscious visitors consider both areas as relatively unspoilt and
cheap and will often bargain intensely.


                                                   3
Box 1. Conditions that generate poor local incentives to conserve in the Trans Himalaya

   Pack animals owned and operated by non-locals
   Campsites that generate little or no revenue for residents
   Camping groups that do not use local accommodation
   No local accommodation
   No value addition to existing services, e.g. naturalist guides, cultural guides



As in other tourist areas, government investment in tourism development has generally resulted in a
polarised pattern of development, both geographically and socially. People with access to credit
have tended to invest in urban areas drawing human and other resources away from rural areas.
Additionally, there has been little support of loans with necessary training in environmental and
visitor management, marketing and general operations.

1.3. Opportunities
The opportunities for positive change in conservation and tourism development have their basis in
new directions in good and decentralised governance, participatory management and more
participation by communities, non-government and private sectors in economic development. More
specifically in the Trans Himalaya, there are opportunities in the following areas:
a) Promoting participatory approaches that generate benefits for communities and in which NGOs
    and the private sector can play important roles;
b) Promoting destinations that are as attractive as Tibet (China) in terms of cultural attractions
c) Attracting more domestic visitors by making use of direct flights from Delhi and road access
    from Himachal Pradesh;1
d) Generating economic benefits from local services and enterprises that promote a conservation
    and social ethic as part of product development and marketing, for example marketing snow
    leopard sites, applying Codes of Conducts, standards of operations;
e) Seeking long-term financial support for conservation and tourism through non-traditional
    sources such as funds created through fees, royalties, etc.

2. Project Objectives, Outline and Activities
“A traditional village-based Himalayan Homestay would maintain and share a traditional
way of life and its values, provide traditional food, be based on eco-friendly concepts and
require small amounts of investment for renovation not building”.

Proposals for 2003-2005 adopted the above definition based on a workshop held in 2001 and
lessons learned during project implementation in 2002 and the increased availability of funds for
2003, plus likely continuation of the project up to 2005. Thus the title “Himalayan Homestays”
reflects exploration and expansion of the project beyond Ladakh to other sites in the Himalaya.

Objectives
With the above definition as a guiding concept, Himalayan Homestays seeks to:
1. Ensure that hosts-

1
  Surprisingly, visitor numbers do not seem to be as adversely affected as neighbouring Kashmir. There is a tendency for
fluctuations, but not a general pattern of decline.


                                                           4
           o have developed the unique mountain experience
           o are obtaining a fair return for their services and investment
2. Ensure that homestays contribute to conserving local cultural and natural heritage and that hosts
   and providers are aware of the links between tourism and local cultural and natural resources
3. Create a distinctive, authentic, reliable, tourist accommodation and experience – homestay
   packages – for visitors in the world’s highest mountain range

Primary Indicators - Primary indicators that show progress toward objectives have been kept to a
minimum, since it is intended that project participants (hosts, guides, visitors, tour operators) will
augment these during planning process. In Section 2.3, however, there are supplementary indicators
that also help assess progress towards objectives and about which information will be collected and
targets set when possible and feasible.

Objective 1
Amount of revenue from homestays and guide services
Level of local participation and satisfaction with homestay design, monitoring
Objective 2
Number of cultural features in homestays and adaptation for visitors
Level of awareness of and conservation actions taken by hosts and visitors
Objective 3
Level of visitor satisfaction with homestays and related services
Number of tour operator activities to promote and include homestays in itineraries

These objectives address the overall UNESCO program objectives for “Cultural and Ecotourism in
the Mountainous Regions of South and Central Asia” in the following ways:

   Poverty reduction through increase in income for village households from tourism operations
    and livelihood options
   Reducing rural to urban migration through increasing livelihood options within rural settlements
   Protection of cultural and natural heritage through the promotion and pride of providing
    traditional accommodation and related services such wildlife guide services that generate
    incentives to protect resources for income generation

In the Fourth Regional workshop conducted in Ladakh in 2003, participants developed indicators to
assess progress in the above program objectives. Of these, Himalayan Homestays has included the
following to report on progress.

Poverty Alleviation
 Amount of income/revenue from tourism
 Number of families benefiting from tourism income
 Number of women employed in tourism
 Feeling of self-reliance (this is modified from feeling of well-being and confidence)

Reducing rural to urban migration
 Number of young people in village




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Natural and Cultural heritage conservation
 Amount of alternative energy that substitutes for fuelwood
 Amount of funds allocated for nature and cultural conservation

2.1. Strategic Approach
The strategic approach to the Himalayan Homestays is based on an assumption that its success will
be assessed by its ability to achieve the stated objectives, and visitors, hosts and other funding
agencies maintaining interest in the concept after the current funding has ceased.
The overall strategy is to proceed at a measured pace, build upon successes and not raise
expectations unduly. Our approach emerges from the experience and results of several years of
developing and support community-based tourism in mountain regions. If seen as key steps these
would be taken in the following order, with significant investments in skills development and
building reliability in the first two years, and increasing focus on promotion and expansion in the
latter two years.
 Skills development of providers of services (from homestays to training to commercial links)
     building capacity to manage, adapt and innovate;
 Building reliability in services and methods used, e.g. field testing, monitoring mechanisms,
     manuals, market research methods, etc., such that these can inform not only this project but
     others as well; and
 Promotion and expansion of services and products, but in a measured manner so that the right
     clientele are drawn to reliable product. As we have discovered word of mouth is the most
     effective promotion for such products, but reliability and correct information will be critical to
     ensuring that an appreciative visitor comes to experience a homestay and pays the right price.

Although presented as a separate project here, Himalayan Homestays is part of a larger integrated
programme of the Snow Leopard Conservancy and its partners to link biodiversity conservation
with local livelihoods in the Trans Himalaya. There are several activities in the larger programme,
such as conservation education, wildlife monitoring, livelihood improvements and so on, that are
not described here but which, nonetheless, support the development of Homestays. There are also
Homestays in other regions of the Himalaya, such as Sikkim, that are run independently but are
promoted under the banner of Himalayan Homestays.

2.2. Activities for 2004 (specific targets are given in Section 2.3.)
Given the funds available in 2004, there are two primary foci for this year’s activities.

a) To improve the quality and use of existing Homestays and related services; and
b) To expand to a new site, Spiti, through local partners who were trained in 2003.

We do expect other sites and organisations to join the Himalayan Homestay banner and benefit
from joint promotion opportunities, but they will not receive financial support from project
partners. These new possible sites are in Uttaranchal, additional locations in Sikkim and possibly
Bhutan.

1. Support existing Homestays in Ladakh with training in operations and quality control.
We have a much better understanding of what issues to address from the visitor and provider
perspectives, and plan to work with volunteers and service providers to deliver a more focussed
training program for homestay providers, guides and café operators. More training also needs to be


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done in the area of monitoring and working with communities to gather information on indicators
upon which they can take action, e.g. level of and reasons for visitor satisfaction. It should be noted
that SLC recruited a new field officer from Zanskar who has received basic training in CBT, and
who will be available to provide additional field support. We also hope to recruit a monitoring
assistant to work with tour operators to assess field operations and provide regular feedback to all
participants. With a view to graduating Homestay management and operations to local villagers,
efforts will also be made to appoint and support Village Coordinators who will work with SLC staff
and tour operators to oversee Homestays.

2. Support the establishment of more Homestays in other sites, as interest emerges and
commitments are made in CBT plans in Spiti and elsewhere. In Spiti grants will be given to local
organisations to prepare and implement CBT plans in promising villages and sites. Homestays are
likely to be one of several products that communities identify and choose to pursue. In Ladakh
other NGOs and agencies who are interested in developing Homestays will be supported through
provision of manuals, meetings and visits with current operators, etc., with organisations raising
their own funds for Homestay establishment. In Ladakh no more than 40 Homestays will be
supported directly by UNESCO funds, although others may join as their own cost, but benefit from
joint promotion as long environmental and social criteria are met.

3. Training courses for 6-10 wildlife and cultural guides in homestay sites in Ladakh. One
will be a refresher course for currently active guides addressing some of the issues that emerged
during the last course and the 2003 tourist season. Another will be for new guides based in around
Ulley which is a promising wildlife viewing site. This will also be an opportunity to field test the
guide handbook and refine it further before wider dissemination. Another more advanced naturalist
guide training course is planned for Spiti participants in 2004 with the majority of funding from
other sources and a small amount from this year’s UNESCO request.

4. Parachute cafes – training in food preparation and hygiene for up to 10 cafes operated by more
than one household. These are courses based on a similar one carried out in 2000, but will reach a
larger group of operators. A primary focus will be on the use and promotion of solar water boilers
since these are underutilised at present and can be a viable alternative to selling drinking water in
plastic bottles.

5. Supporting Materials for Homestays, Cafes and Guides – For 2003, most of the work will
focus on refining and field-testing manuals, ensuring that Homestay materials for operators are
updated as needed, and providing informational materials for visitors and hosts about water boiled
in the parabolic boilers. Efforts will also be made to make sure that materials produced in 2003 are
available to visitors in key locations.

6. Homestay Promotion – In 2004, the primary focus will be to exploit the promotional channels
highlighted in the market survey of 2003. This will include maintaining the website and maximising
its potential, making full use of the materials produced in 2003 in Leh and other locations such trade
fairs, and to pursue publication of at least two articles about the Homestay experience in popular
magazines/newspapers in India.

7. Expansion – This is planned through grants for CBT development to local organisations in key
areas of Ladakh and Spiti. Two organisations in Spiti have already been identified – MUSE and the



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All-Spiti Youth Association. Members from each organisation underwent CBT training in 2003 and
have already started preliminary planning in two promising sites identified during the assessment
carried out also in 2003. Each grant will be structured to allow the organisations to work together in
a complementary manner, to address CBT opportunities and issues as they emerge from the
planning process with UNESCO funds directed to activities that meet project and programme
objectives (see Box 2). We anticipate that Spiti Homestays will emerge and will join the Himalayan
Homestays banner in 2004. In Ladakh, we are waiting to see where additional interest for
Homestays emerges, and based on a feasibility assessment, one or possibly two small grants will be
given to local organisations making use of persons trained in CBT during 2003.


Box 2 - Potential activities in Spiti (specific actions will emerge when planning meetings are
completed in March 2004)

 Nature and culture guide training for 8-12 youths (largely funded by the Disney Grant)
 Development of up to 15 Homestays in Kibber and Sagnam
 Basic market research based on similar activities in Ladakh
 Coordination and Awareness Raising workshop for stakeholders to identify opportunities, needs,
  sources of support and next steps and start addressing the Field to Policy linkages identified in the
  2003 Spiti Assessment
 Small lodge survey to identify low-cost interventions for improving quality of service and type of visitor
 Field trials of solar and pressure cookers for boiling water




8. Monitoring and Evaluation – Village-based meetings in for Ladakh Homestay partners
(providers, tour operators, NGOS, etc.). Where grants are given to other organisations for CBT
development, the requirement for monitoring and evaluation activities will be included in the
contract. Efforts will be made to be creative in our approach to planning, monitoring and
evaluation. One idea that will be testing the use of micro-cassette players to record villagers’
observations, thoughts and ideas. Another is to train villagers in using disposable cameras to capture
what was important, interesting and illustrative, and then to analyse with the photographers and
villagers what was captured, why and what the insights offer in terms of lessons learned, good
practices and future plans. As simple as the idea may appear, it is infact a form of inquiry and
analysis that is quite sophisticated and empowering.

9. Sustainability meetings – It has always been the intention that Himalayan Homestays graduate
from a project to a series of operations and partnerships that can be sustained through Homestay
revenues and small amounts of local financial assistance. With this in mind, meetings will be held in
2004 to explore and plan for how this can be done. We anticipate that the first of these will be in
Bhutan at the Fifth Regional UNESCO workshop, and be followed by at least one more meeting
with the Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim and other organisations as they join the
network.




                                                      8
2.3. Project and programme targets for 2004

Objective                                                                    Targets for 2004

1. Project and programme objectives related to revenue and
participation                                                                   Increase number of homestay providers in Ladakh by no more than
Project Objective                                                                10-15%
Ensure that hosts-                                                              Increase number of homestay visitors by 30% to existing sites
 have developed the unique mountain experience,                                 (especially in Sku/kaya who had little or no experience of homestay
 are obtaining a fair return for their services and investment                  visitors last year, but also Ullay & Ang)
                                                                                Recruit 2-4 more local travel agents for participating in Homestay
Primary Indicators                                                               program.
 Amount of revenue from homestays and villager guide services.                 Increase Homestay and guide revenue by up to 30%.
 Level of local participation and satisfaction with homestay design,
                                                                                70% of trained nature guides from 2003 are women
  monitoring
                                                                                Number of women = number of homestays (as all operators are
 Feeling of self-reliance (new indicator from review meetings)
                                                                                 currently women).
Supplementary indicators
 Number of travel agents involved in HH program.                               Completed CBT plans for at least two sites in Spiti, anticipate
 Number of clients engaging nature guides
                                                                                 supporting about 10-15 Homestays, related services and promotional
                                                                                 activities through sub-grants
 Number of visitors that spend extra days at homestay villages
 Number of clients                                                             Increased use of local resource persons for training
                                                                                Full participation in planning, training and evaluation by all providers
UNESCO Programme Objective – To alleviate poverty
Primary Indicators
 Number and type of families benefiting from tourism income
 Number of women employed in tourism

UNESCO Programme Objective – To reduce rural to urban
migration
Primary Indicator
 Number of young people remaining in village

Supplementary Indicators
 Number of requests from village youths for guide training
 Number of male (rather than female) village guides finding temporary
  or permanent jobs with local travel agents



                                                                         9
2. Project and programme objectives relating to conservation of              Maintain good standard of toilet management
cultural and natural heritage                                                Number of LPG gas cylinders used in season (compared to non-
Project Objective – Ensure that homestays contribute to conserving local      seasonal use)
cultural and natural heritage and hosts are aware of the direct linkage      Establish a fair system for depositing income into village funds –
between income from tourism and local environment and cultural values         perhaps a threshold before they start contributing into fund, such as
                                                                              Rs.500/- gross income per season
Primary Indicators                                                           Other targets as agreed by participants in planning meetings, especially
 Number of cultural features in homestays and adaptation for visitors        those related to use of solar water boilers, cultural features in
 Level of awareness of conservation                                          Homestays, and number of types of conservation actions.
 Number of conservation actions taken by hosts and visitors


UNESCO Program Objective – Natural and Cultural heritage
conservation
Primary indicators
 Amount of alternative energy that substitutes for fuelwood
 Amount of funds allocated for nature and cultural conservation (fund
  balance before and after season)

Supplementary indicators
 Level of matching funds provided by SLC (link with actual contribution
  and also extent of conservation action community takes of its own
  accord)




3. Project and Programme objectives related to ensuring a                    Quality and number of soft beds (or % of homes with feature) Note
distinctive, authentic, reliable tourism accommodation and                    that approx 60% of Rumbak HS providers have already done this on
experience                                                                    their own initiative, but project may have to help finance other sites
Project Objective                                                             where business has been much lower)
 Create a distinctive, authentic, reliable, tourist accommodation and       Balance privacy for provider family with a quality cultural experience for
  experience – homestay packages – for visitors in the world’s highest        visitor. Meals should be served in kitchen, but have specified meal
  mountain range                                                              hours to ensure family has some privacy
Primary Indicators                                                           80% + satisfaction level among visitors and homestay providers
 Level of visitor satisfaction with homestays and related services
                                                                             Increased interest in tour operators to hire trained female nature guides


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 Number of tour operator activities to promote and include homestays      as trek guides (starting in 2005 or 2006)
  in itineraries                                                          Involvement of other agencies (2 +) in managing homestay and
                                                                           voucher system
                                                                          2 articles in Indian magazines, 1 or more in international outlets
                                                                          Website well –linked to responsible nature tour agencies’ sites /
                                                                           brochures
                                                                          At least 2 visits by Leh and Delhi based tour operators to homestay
                                                                           sites, and 3-4 visits by international trekking guides to assess the
                                                                           homestay experience
                                                                          At least 2 local agents advertise homestays as part of their stable of trek
                                                                           itineraries
                                                                          Preliminary strategy for management of Himalayan Homestays by local
                                                                           organisations and operators.




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2.4. Project Duration – January 2003 to December 2005

2.5. Amount requested from UNESCO – for January to December 2004, $25,000, with co-
    financing from the Snow Leopard Conservancy and local communities (see attached budget).




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Activities for 2003                                                                                  Q1   Q2   Q3   Q4

1. Support existing Homestays in Ladakh with training in operations and quality control.

2. Support the establishment of more Homestays in other sites, as interest emerges and commitments
are made in CBT plans in Spiti and elsewhere.

3. Training courses for 6-10 wildlife and cultural guides in homestay sites

4. Parachute cafes – training and support for using parabolic water heaters for cafes operated by
more than one household

5. Supporting Materials for Homestays, Cafes and Guides – refinement, distribution, etc.

6. Homestay Promotion – website, distribution and advertising, articles

7. Participatory monitoring and evaluation.

8. Sustainability meetings




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Appendix 1
Snow Leopard Conservancy
The Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) is dedicated to demonstrating innovative, “grass-roots”
measures that lead local people to become effective stewards of the endangered snow leopard, prey
and its habitat. SLC operates under the Cat Action Treasury (a US-based nonprofit charity), which
supports projects of the Cat Specialist Group, World Conservation Union - IUCN.

Rinchen Wangchuk – India Field Director. Rinchen oversees SLC program working with local
communities and providing input into developing on-going programs. His commitment to working
for the welfare of the rural people of Ladakh and their heritage has grown out his own village
upbringing and from his experiences in mountaineering and tourism. Rinchen attended the second
course on Community-based Tourism for Conservation and Development organised by TMI and
RECOFTC and has been developing and implementing community tourism programmers in Ladakh
since 2000.

Jigmet Dadul – India Program Assistant. Jigmet was born and grew up in Ladakh, and has a
bachelor’s degree in library studies. He has worked with several film natural history film crews in
Ladakh, and currently carries out a number of duties for SLC including office management, field
coordination and monitoring, and assisting in program implementation. In 2003 Jigmet attended the
fifth international course in Community-based Tourism for Conservation and Development in
Thailand.

Tashi Tundup – India Field Assistant. Tashi is a native of the Zanskar region of Ladakh. Despite
Zanskar’s remoteness and the challenges of obtaining even grammar-school education, Tashi has
completed two years of his Bachelor’s degree, and is strongly committed to promoting conservation
and development throughout Zanskar. In 2003 Tashi attend the Fourth UNESCO Regional
workshop and the first Community-based Tourism Training Course for the Himalayas in Nanda
Devi Biosphere Reserve.

Rodney Jackson – Director, SLC-International. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading expert
on snow leopards and their habitat, Rodney has led the effort to find community-based measures to
protect this endangered species. His achievements include snow leopard research supported by the
prestigious Rolex Enterprise Award, pioneering work in snow leopard monitoring and more recently
innovative and sustainable efforts to protect snow leopards through community-based interventions
such as indigenously designed livestock corrals and off setting livestock losses through income
generation activities such as ecotourism.

SLC-India : Rinchen Wangchuk, IBEX Hotel Complex, Leh 194 101, J&K, India.
Tel:+91 (1982) 250953; fax 252735; e-mail: slcindia@sancharnet.in

International Office: 18030 Comstock Avenue, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: +1-707-935-3851; Fax: +1-707-933-9816
Contact: Dr. Rodney Jackson; e-mail: rodjackson@mountain.org
www.snowleopardconservancy.org




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MUSE and the All Spiti Youth Association
Both MUSE and the All Spiti Youth Association (ASYA) are NGOs registered under the
Socities Registeration Act of 1860.

ASYA comprises of all the youth of Spiti--the representatives of the village level youth clubs
confederate on a zonal level--there are 4 zones in Spiti and then from amongst these
representatives --apex level representatives are chosen and a Secretary leads the organisation.
They are largely a new body --though have been actively involved in encouraging various
sports in the Spiti valley--in preserving the environment of the area--such as banning plastic
bags in Kaza--organising clean up drives etc.

MUSE was formed by a group of like-minded individuals from diverse fields--and has been
working in Spiti for the past 2 years largely on issues related to womens' empowerment,
environment conservation and the generation of alternate and sustainable livelihoods from
the existing natural resource base. Their activities have concentrated on the propagation and
commercialisation of Seabuckthorn--an indigenous shrub with immense medicinal value, soil
binding and nitrogen fixing properties.

Both organisations are keen to work on responsible tourism development. Members of each
group attended the Community-based Tourism in the Himalayas training course sponsored
by SLC and the Centre for Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecotourism in 2003.




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