Sustainable Development Success Stories

Pendeba project

Location Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Preserve, Tibet Autonomous Region, Peoples' Republic of China.
Responsible Organisation Future Generations
Description The Pendeba provides health care and other services to the rural poor living within the boundaries of the Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Preserve (QNNP) where such services are lacking. In Tibetan "Pendeba" means "the worker who benefits the village," and the programme was based on the idea that by providing the villagers with needed services, particularly in the area of health, and by using project-trained villagers as providers, the result would be an empowering sense that their lives could be bettered and that living within a preserve would not lock them into lives of dependency, subsistence, and indifference to the conservation goals of the QNNP. The project implementation is based on a community-involvement process called Self-Evaluation for Effective Decision-Making (SEED). The project, begun in 1994, funded and supported by Future Generations, the Tibet Autonomous Region State Government, and the Central Government of China.
Issues Addressed Capacity-building, helping communities to become more self-reliant and self-supporting. Health concerns of the villagers were used as the entry point for instituting a process of community improvement and change.
Results Achieved The project, although ongoing, has already produced tangible, beneficial results. Villages with no health care services have now someone local to turn to. Infant mortality in the QNNP decreased BY 50%; childhood immunisation rates are over 90%. People have access to family-planning services on a voluntary basis. Additionally, there has been tangible capacity-building development with the organisation of village meetings held to comment on and direct the efforts of the Pendebas, particularly as the program expands to include other services that benefit the villages. These additional services include income generating activities, reforestation and irrigation projects, the introduction of solar cookers, the printing of Tibetan texts for the schools, and introduction of other appropriate technologies.
Lessons Learned
  • Importance of a bottom-up approach to changes.

  • The population, once engaged, become stakeholders and defenders of the preserve and more aware of the link between conservation and sustainable development. The management structure of the QNNP, designed specifically to use the existing decentralised county administrative units, made it easier to accomplish the task of bringing conservation, ideas and practices into the developmental mind-set of county administrators. In the QNNP local people, not wardens, are protecting trees and wildlife.

Importance of using familiar cultural patterns when creating the new structures that serves to foster community involvement in the program. Take into account long-standing cultural patterns when introducing changes, be they technological or organisational, which should be both appropriate and compatible for the communities they are intended to benefit.
Contact Future Generations, PO Box 10, Franklin, WV 26807 USA Tel. (304) 358 200; Fax (304) 358 3008;
E-mail mailto:daniel@future.org
Website: http://www.future.org