Community Action Nepal (CAN), a charity which has been operating in Nepal for over 20 years, was announced as the sixth winner of the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award at the 2018 UIAA General Assembly in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in early October.
CAN was set up by legendary mountaineer and former UIAA Management Committee member Doug Scott CBE, the first Briton (with Dougal Haston) to climb Everest in 1975. In creating CAN, Scott wanted to give something back to the mountain people of Nepal who had helped him climb 14 peaks in the country. It was a key legacy which emerged from the historic 1975 British Everest SW Face Expedition.
In 2015, CAN’s focus took on a more specific objective. Following the devastating earthquake which hit Nepal in April of that year, the charity’s strategy was directed towards supporting the recovery of earthquake-affected communities in remote mountain areas.
Much of CAN’s own work over two decades was wiped out in a matter of minutes following the disaster which killed nearly 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000, destroyed entire villages, displaced almost 3.5 million individuals and caused over 10 billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure damage. Century-old buildings, monasteries and temples were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a number of areas including Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.
CAN’s recovery work has been directed towards rebuilding vital community assets such as health posts, schools, porter shelters and gompas, while at the same time maintaining core health and educational provision and supporting livelihoods. New buildings have been designed to be more earthquake resistant ensuring that should another disaster occur, the infrastructure will prove more robust.
WATCH: The Community Action Nepal showreel
“Assigning this year’s winner was a difficult task,” explained UIAA Mountain Protection Commission President Dr Carolina Adler. “The score results among the top-ranking projects were very close. Nevertheless, CAN and its work in post-earthquake recovery in Nepal, has been instrumental in helping to support the rebuilding efforts of local communities who themselves provide so much for mountaineers in their pursuits in the mountains. It is great to see this solidarity”.
Doug Scott paid tribute to the sterling efforts of the CAN team. “Receiving this is just reward for the trust that some 5,000 donors have placed in CAN, the unstinting help of more than a hundred UK volunteers, our dedicated and hard-working UK and Nepal staff and the whole-hearted, hands-on support from our trustees, both here in the UK and in Nepal, over many years.”
CAN, whose work is driven by a motivation to help protect mountain communities and is underpinned by the principles of sustainability and the protection of the environment, was one of eighteen projects nominated for the 2018 UIAA Mountain Protection Award.
Following KTK-Belt in 2015 and the Mount Everest Biogas Project in 2017, CAN is the third winning project which works closely with Nepalese mountain communities.
“We are very pleased to see a broad range of projects nominated for the MPA this year, in particular it is great to see a genuine interest and action, on behalf of the mountaineering community, on issues of development and support for the livelihoods of communities that live in the mountains and with whom we have direct interaction as part of our own visits to the mountains,” continued Adler.
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