Date: 14th August 2009 : Author: Dawa Steven Sherpa
REPORT : IMJA TSHO ACTION EVENT 2009
Imja Tsho Action Event 2009 was organized in the Khumbu on 18th and 19th June 2009 with the support of WWF Nepal's "Climate for Life" campaign. The event was also supported by the Sagarmatha National Park, Department of Wildlife Conservation and National Park, and Buffer Zone Committee.
BEAT THE GLOF ACTION RUN, 18th JUNE : IMJA TSHO BASE CAMP
The Beat the GLOF Action Run was organized by Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa, a network of Sherpa students and supported by iDEAS. The Action Run was sponsored by The North Face and Asian Trekking provided Accommodation and Meals to the runners volunteers up to Imja Tsho Base Camp.
137 persons (115 male and 22 female runners) from the Khumbu Mountain Community signed up for the Run.
The Run was organized to act as a catalyst for the international community to act and assist in programs that would help minimize the loss of lives and property - the disastrous outcome of a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) occurring at Lake Imja Tsho. The Event was a clarion call to the national and international stakeholders for Action to help these threatened mountain communities.
The Action Run was a highly successful event! 113 runners completed the 35 km route from Imja Lake (5010m) to Khumjung Village (3780m). The first 3 male and female runners were:
- Ram Kumar Rajbhandari : 3hrs 21mins
- Ram Kumar Tamang : 3hrs 24mins
- Karma Sherki Sherpa : 3hrs 27mins
- Ang Phuti Sherpa : 4hrs 03mins
- Mingma Phuti Sherpa : 4hrs 22mins
- Mingma Chamji Sherpa : 4hrs 25mins
Mr. Prashant Singh, WWF Nepal Director of Business Relations, presented Khata (sacred Buddhist cloth) and Climate for Life T-shirts to all the runners
During the Beat the GLOF Action Run volunteers from the Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa were in place at 12 checkpoints along the Run route to provide water and energy bars to the runners and also basic First Aid to any runner if needed. Members of the Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa who had received training in the iDEAS Basic Videography Course were also positioned at various locations to film the Run while professional camera teams were at the start and finish lines to film the event.
KHUMBU FESTIVAL, 19th JUNE : KHUMJUNG
As part of the Imja Tsho Action Event 2009, Khumbu Festival took place on 19th June 2009 at Khumjung Village. During the festival members of the mountain community stressed the need for urgent action to be taken to reduce the risk to lives in the event of Imja Tsho bursting its banks. Such an event would devastate the Khumbu, a region that is home to the world famous Sherpa people and also the jewel in the crown of the Nepalese tourism industry.
During the opening session of the program, Chairman of The North Face Nepal, Capt. Nima Norbu Sherpa, presented medals and cash prizes to the top 10 runners. Mr. Prashant Singh, Director, Development and Marketing, WWF Nepal, presented the top three male and female runners with Climate for Life mementos.
Chief Guest, Sonam Gyalzen president of the Sagarmatha National Park Buffer Zone Management committee, Guest of Honor Linda McMillan, President, Mountain Protection Commission UIAA, and Senior Advisor iDEAS, Mr. Prashant Singh, Director, Development and Marketing, WWF Nepal, informed the more than 1500 people from the surrounding mountain communities about the threat of climate change and appreciated their efforts for action.
WWF’s Educational Children’s Book series “Pani Prasad” Volume I and II in Nepali were launched at the program. It became an instant hit with adults and children alike. The Pani Prasad mascot also mixed with the visitors at the Festival amidst cheers from the crowd.
Prizes for the winners of 'Climate Change: Voices of the Khumbu Children' Art and Letter Writing Competition sponsored by ICIMOD were also distributed at the Festival. Students from schools as far as Lukla were among the winners. The children ranging from age 5 to 15 proudly received their awards from the Headmaster of Khumjung School Mr. Mahendra Kathet. The end of the awards ceremony marked the conclusion of the formal part of the festival.
WWF and ICIMOD also set up stalls at the Festival, interacting with the local communities and disseminating information on various environmental issues including Climate Change.
Dressed in traditional attire, members of the mountain communities presented traditional dances to showcase their lifestyle. They had a clear message for the world - the Khumbu is not only home to the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest, but also home to mountain communities facing imminent destruction caused by a GLOF!
Journalists from eight national print and video media organizations were invited to Khumjung for the Imja Tsho Action Event 2009. Agni Airlines offered discounted airfares for the Kathmandu-Lukla flight and Asian Trekking (P) Ltd. sponsored full services Lodge trek for members of the media teams. Asian Trekking also sponsored 4 days/3nights lodging and all meals for the media representatives during their stay in Khumjung Village. Camp de Base at Namche Bazar and La Villa Sherpani at Lukla sponsored the media's stay in Namche and Lukla.
Dawa Steven Sherpa, iDEAS Coordinator and Climate for Life Ambassador said “We pledge to continue to work towards raising awareness on this issue in the future. We truly appreciate the endeavor of international organizations like WWF in helping us take this message to the wider world.”
Prashant Singh, Director, WWF Nepal commented “The threats of Himalayan GLOFs exemplify Climate injustice forced upon communities who have played no role in the creation of this problem in the first place. It’s heartening to see, though, that the local communities are coming together and raising their voice against it.”
This event is part of WWF’s Climate for Life campaign to raise global awareness on the impacts of Climate Change in the Himalayas.
We will be holding the “IMJA TSHO ACTION EVENT 2010” ON THE 10th AND 11th OF JUNE 2010.
PLEASE COME AND JOIN US TO SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS!
Dawa Steven Sherpa
Chief Coordinator, iDEAS
Managing Director, Asian Trekking (P) Ltd.