How the MKPS Continues to Support Fair Employment and Sustainability in Tanzania

February 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Experienced mountain climbers know that porters are the heart and soul of a successful trek. Without their hard work and support, the ability to have a first-hand encounter with the magnificence that is Mount Kilimanjaro would be lost forever.

Unfortunately, this labor-intensive employment leaves many of these individuals impoverished. Porters that freelance or work for unlicensed companies are not well-paid, provided for during a climb, or given adequate clothing and footwear to protect them from the elements. Organizations like the Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society (MKPS), supported by Zara Tours, are making a difference in the lives of the communities we serve.

Improving on a Solid Foundation

Porters that are provided through the MKPS come from our top-rated tour company. Tanzania officials have been working to make the standards upheld by the MKPS a universal guideline for all porter services. They have a lot of work ahead of them in order to put a stop to practices that have been going on unchecked for a significant amount of time.

However, the partnership between Zara Tours and MKPS proves that it can be done successfully and offer ongoing benefits to both climbers and staff. In fact, this month we led the charge to improve the immediate conditions of porters on the mountain.

As a tour operator, we’ve gone to great lengths to provide our porters with the following:

  • Education
  • Fair wages
  • Money management
  • Medical care

The list also includes supplies like food and clothing that is appropriate for making the mountain trek. Like anything else, these supplies can wear out over time. Replacing the supplies properly is a process, but it is a process well-worth the time and expense when you consider the sustainability of these life-giving services.

An Investment that Pays for Itself

Realistically, a tour operator, Tanzania-based or otherwise, has to make investments in the well-being and livelihood of the staff that makes their business possible. At Zara Tours, we not only understand this, we do it independent of government support.

This January, we not only invested in new climbing equipment and supplies for our porter staff, we gave them a salary increase outside of what was proposed by the government. Our hope is that other tour outfits will follow this example as we begin to see the payoff.

That payoff not only supports our staff, it also makes their livelihood sustainable because tour companies have the power to preserve what makes Tanzania such a prized tourist destination. Namely, the wondrous sights that you can see stretched and dispersed across the Serengeti. For example, this spring we will be hosting a cleanup effort to help preserve the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro.

We hope to lead by example and show that stimulating a cycle of sustainability is possible. If you start by supporting the people of Tanzania, that action helps the economy grow, and that growth protects the natural beauty of the country. Action begets action, and it makes real, sustainable change possible.

Zara Tours offers Kili climbs safari packages and other excursions that all focus on sustainable tourism

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Entry filed under: Hiking Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro Trips, Mount Kilimanjaro Porter Society (MKPS), Mt. Kilimanjaro, ZARA Tanzania Adventures. Tags: , , , .

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