With the support of Internet Society, two Sherpa villages located close to Mount Everest have gained internet connectivity.
In January 2023 we announced our collaboration with Internet Society on another project. In this blog, we want to share some more information about the project itself, the aim of the project, and the expected benefits for the newly connected people. The project is split into two phases. Even though 48percent.org contributes to the second phase, explaining the first phase paints a better picture of the project and how it will help this community of people.
Through this project, the aim is to not only provide the local Sherpa communities in Khunde and Khumjung with internet connection to help them in their transition of business models, but also to ensure that they have access to the increasing amount of necessary information that is available online. Deutsche Welle’s podcast explains the project and several locals have been interviewed. They explain the opportunities the internet can bring them.
The remote location of the villages has resulted in limited number of tourist visits, especially after the pandemic. In the search to find alternative ways to attract tourists, connectivity is seen as an important instrument to create new opportunities both in business and overall development of the villages. Access to the internet would allow the people working within tourism to advertise their businesses online, offering experiences that are different from tours that are being organized from the bigger cities.
Additionally, the internet could provide people in the villages with the opportunity to work from home, reducing the number of people moving away for work. Lastly, internet connection can empower individuals through better local assistance in for example health care.
This project aims to connect 1700 Sherpas. Located close to Mount Everest, the people living there experience lack of internet connection due to traditional network operators’ inability to reach them. Lack of internet access poses several limitations, such as access to necessary services within healthcare and education. A lot of people in these villages run or work in tourist-oriented businesses, which have experienced a decline as a consequence of climate change, which in turn has forced these communities to change their businesses.
To meet their needs, Internet Society worked on bringing connectivity to the villages in 2022, but still saw a need for better infrastructure to make it more sustainable. The first phase of the project focused on bringing a fiber cable to the two villages, Khunde and Khunjung. This cable provides internet connectivity to public places such as schools, the local hospital, and a village development council office.
In the second phase, the project aims to extend connectivity to individuals, connecting them in their homes, which means bringing connectivity into individual houses and lodges. This is sustained through yearly subscription packages, which are agreed upon in collaboration with the local community. The subscription fees support network operations and maintenance. 48 percent’s contribution ensures that the local communities know how to use the internet safely. Local capacity building is essential to create a seamless transition into a digital workflow.