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Cornell University

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


The surge of Nepal’s tourism industry has resulted in new waves of tourists visiting popular trekking areas such as the northern Khumbu region of the Solukhumbu District. One effect of this growing industry has been the increased prominence of porters in the area. Coming mostly from lowlands south of the Khumbu, porters are composed mainly of young individuals looking to make a career in the enticing business of trekking and mountaineering tourism. The current status of porter health in Solukhumbu is poor. Many ailments exist to physical and social well-being, and social segregation, incentives to carry heavier loads and a lack of basic health needs have left the porter population victim to a system that sacrifices health for financial profit.

This study was done to determine the common impediments to porter well-being and to analyze current actions being taken to improve porter health. Interviews were conducted around settlements in Khumbu along the trail from Phaplu to Gokyo. Altitude illness and respiratory infections were common diseases for the regional porter population, and impediments to well-being included inadequacies in equipment, accommodation, insurance and education. Clothing centers, education workshops, porter shelters, awareness campaigns and an insurance program are some of the actions currently being taken in the area to improve porter health, though poor awareness, trekking company influence, and perceptions among porters have prevented widespread use of these resources. Altruism and abandonment were both common themes relating to porter health, highlighting the ethical nature of this topic.


Asian Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Sociology of Culture | Tourism | Work, Economy and Organizations


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