Karen Valenti of KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) has affirmed that Nature Discovery is the leading example of practising ethical porter treatment standards on Mount Kilimanjaro. She recently sent us an email…
“On Sat, Apr 25, 2015 at 6:09 PM, Karen Valenti wrote:
Dear Thomas and Ailsa,
I’ve been thinking recently – about how it is necessary for the Partner companies to educate the climbing public about the great role that they are playing in setting the fair treatment practices on Kilim
anjaro. Unfortunately, KPAP cannot tell the exact truth as those with power will influence the government and possibly bring harm to us. As Thomas said so well “Not every prospective Kili climber is even aware of the normal cultural practices that have been a cloud over Kilimanjaro since tourists began trekking up it”.
If the truth were to be told:
• Porters can pay a bribe in order to get the opportunity to climb. ND has effectively eliminated the payment of bribes through their computer selection system.
• The full amount of intended tip may not reach the porter. ND has implemented a tipping procedure that ensures the full amount of tip is given to the porter.
• Climbers can be cheated out of tip money by guides claiming that there are extra porters on the climb. ND has a system of informing climbers of the exact number of crew.
• Only a small percentage of climbing companies pay the minimum wages declared by TANAPA and the government notice of 2009. ND pays above these wages.
• The full salary may not be paid to the crew. ND employs a bank deposit system ensuring the full payment.
• Porters often eat only one meal per day. ND provides [porters] three [meals per day].
• Porters can carry more than the 20kg weight limit. ND has an efficient weighing system before and during the climb to make sure that the bag weights are 20kg. ND also reduces the bag weights carried by the camp manager and waiter so that they can do their job well.
• Porters can be crowded in the tents. ND has a system for calculating the number of crew per tent so that they have appropriate sleeping space.
• Many companies do not pay the wages established by KINAPA for porters carrying resupply to a climb. ND has one of the highest paying wage amounts for resupply.
• ND employs two Porter Welfare officers to help ensure proper treatment practices. Thomas, Ailsa, and these porter welfare officers work directly together as a team as well as meet with their crew twice a year.
• ND collaborates closely with KPAP and receives a report from an investigative porter on every climb. ND follows up immediately on any feedback provided by KPAP to improve and refine their systems.
ND was the first climbing company to trust and believe in KPAP’s reporting of the problem areas, realize the cultural oppression on Kilimanjaro, and proceed to implement solid systems that prevent cultural practices from interfering with fair treatment. ND has been the leading example and KPAP wants for all Partner companies to attain their level of performance. By ND’s taking the lead on this three years ago, they have been key in facilitating the changes in treatment practices on Kilimanjaro. KPAP will always been indebted to Thomas and team for taking this role and accomplishing this great feat. In a country where rights may not be honored, it is evident that porters on Kilimanjaro have their rights because of ND’s example. We will do our best to improve the climbing public’s awareness about the Partner company performance on Kilimanjaro.
In any interactions with potential clients, please feel free to use any of the statements that I’ve made below to help them understand the situation better and the premier performance standards that ND has.
Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project
P.O. Box 1275 Moshi Tanzania
+255 754 817 615
We are proud of getting this recognition, and continue to work hard to set the standards of tomorrow for social responsibility in tourism.
Thomas Holden (General Manager, Nature Discovery)