RMLI: Call for Collaborators
Mountain Legacy (Nepali NGO, reg. no. 1018/060-61) seeks collaborators for a long-term program of research and development. The RMLI will be a light and flexible research nexus bringing together researchers, students, developers, and community members in the upper Rolwaling Valley.
What is a light and flexible research nexus?
Initially, at least, there would be no infrastructure. We would like RMLI participants to be housed and to meet in guesthouses and private homes. We do not foresee an immediate need for hi-tech laboratories or special facilities. By limiting our activities to those that can be accommodated with locally owned facilities and services, we will
We would not exclude the possibility that the local community and RMLI collaborators may choose, at some future time, to establish a more conventional institute with library, meeting space, and so on.
Who will benefit from the RMLI?
The principal beneficiaries will be the people of Rolwaling. Participants in the RMLI will carry out research designed to facilitate efforts to protect the cultural and natural legacy of Rolwaling Valley. A principal focus will be those geological processes, including the impact of climate change, bearing on the hazards of glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF). Anthropologists, linguists, and other social scientists will help preserve the culture and monitor changes so that necessary steps can be taken to shape development in a manner consistent with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Rolwaling.
Secondary beneficiaries will be the people of other remote mountainous regions for whom the findings of the RMLI will have extrapolative and comparative value.
Scholars and researchers will benefit from the synergy of interdisciplinary long-term field work in a highly diverse but geographically compact study site. Apart from the intrinsic interest of this site, it is also unusually convenient. Tsho Rolpa is only four days' walk beyond the trailhead, which can be reached by public bus for 140 NR. Participants will not be at the mercy of a dicey and comparatively expensive air connection. The site itself is much lower than Lobuche (3,500 m compare to 5000m) and therefore poses less risk of altitude sickness. Also, since the trail is more or less straightforward, without the sort of reversal that occurs at Tengboche, evacuation is much simpler and safer
Prospective (but currently unaffiliated) degree candidates will be able to initiate research projects without the expense of tuition at a university. Their experience will make it easier to gain acceptance later on at an accredited university, and to compete successfully for grants that will result in more ambitious and more productive research than one would expect from inexperienced researchers. Clarity of purpose and availability of funding will lead to expedited degree completion.
Students in accredited universities will be able to enroll temporarily in overseas "exchange" programs managed by RMLI collaborators, getting credit for study in a site far more exotic and stimulating than the usual urban centers.
The demands of an ongoing RMLI will also instigate developments that are critically needed by the local community. These may include a health clinic, electrification, waste disposal, a regular market ("bazaar") at Simigaon, improved paths and bridges, a cable lift at Simigaon, greenhouse agriculture, cash crops (medicinal herbs and nak butter, for example), and cottage industries (low-impact backpacker tourism, Rolwaling brand apparel, dried foods for campers, and so on).
Tourists will benefit from the presence of the RMLI in several ways. The work of the RMLI will result in more available information about the area, its history, and its inhabitants. RMLI projects and activities will be a focus of visitor interest. Most important, RMLI will designate projects and public works, ranging from waste removal to ornithological census to school-room auxiliary instruction, in which tourists could participate. This site-based "ecotourism," with zero economic leakage, will promote longer and more productive visits.
Money brought in by RMLI participants and supporters may finance the installation of a visitor center, improvements in the local school, and ultimately the foundation of a seminary -- a high-priority objective of the religious leaders of Rolwaling.
What do we need?
Everything depends on which collaborators are involved in the RMLI. Initially, we would like to have at least one professional academic on site at all times, to serve as research coordinator. This responsibility and expense could be shared and rotated.
We would like to maintain and staff an office in Kathmandu. This office would be shared by Mountain Legacy and Himalayan Journal of Sciences. The office would include a library with archives relating to the RMLI, as well as information and assistance for arriving RMLI participants.
The Rolwaling Mount Everest Summiters Club (de facto representative of the Rolwaling community) has already approved a Memorandum of Understanding in support of the idea of an RMLI. (See below.) The upcoming Rolwaling Conference ("Mountain hazards, mountain tourism") will provide a forum for formulation of specifics, by bringing together both prospective collaborators and a large part of the Rolwaling community. (See www.rolwalingconference.com.) The organizers of this conference urgently require financial assistance in order to subsidize participation of those for whom the $45 registration fee is unaffordable.
Please let us know how the RMLI might be compatible with your own mission, and whether you would like to collaborate, or at least participate in discussions leading to its establishment.
Festival near Beding