Tarayana Foundation - Women livelihood

Trashigang, Western Bhutan

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Working with Tarayana Foundation to promote long-term life improvement and culture preservation through skills training and improved nutrition

Our impact numbers


Direct beneficiaries


Indirect beneficiaries


Grant size in USD

Demand-driven approach for long-term impact

The Foundation adopts a bottom-up project design approach. Each community development is characterised by thorough field assessment involving consultation meetings and focus groups allowing specific demographics, especially women to have a safe space to express their needs and aspirations. Project design is based on a resulting ‘wish list’.

Strong track-record

The Foundation has a stellar reputation for the community development work it has been carrying out throughout the country. The Foundation applies a holistic framework that promotes self-empowerment and provides opportunities for life improvement. Their multipronged approach include housing, health, food, sills, income generation, education, green Technology and access to credit.

Focus on sustainability

The Foundation’s activities focus on empowering the communities and providing the support necessary for them to be able to sustain the positive impact beyond the project period. They form ‘Self Help Groups’ to encourage leadership and collaboration and there is a strong emphasis on making communities contribute and cost-share so they take the ownership and value the support more than when it is given for free.

Strong presence on the ground

The Secretariat manages and implements the programmes with a network of Programme and Field Officers. These experienced field workers are posted in the project location for an average of 2-3 years, until the full implementation of the project is completed and the communities are capable of sustaining the positive impact by themselves.


Merak and Sakteng are two historically related communities situated a day’s hike from each other, in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), in Eastern Bhutan.

The people of Merak and Sakteng are known as Brokpas (highlander). The Brokpas have maintained their unique tradition and customs and live a semi nomadic lifestyle, primarily depending on Yaks and Sheep for their livelihood.

However, due to the lack of socio-economic development and income generation opportunities, as well as poor nutrition, the communities face irrevocable loss of their unique cultural heritage

Merak Sakteng Trek was opened only in 2010 after three decades of inception of tourism in Bhutan and so far very few trekking groups have visited this remote region in Eastern Bhutan.

However the region's breath-taking landscape, its rare wildlife as well as the Brokpas’ unique culture and lifestyle is  poised to attract an increasing number of eco-tourists.  

This represents an opportunity to encourage local populations to use traditional crafts to explore revenue generation activities through selling of handicrafts and catering for homestays, thus preserving their unique culture and reversing urbanisation.


A holistic approach is needed to help the two communities lastingly overcome some of the challenges while capitalising on the region's expected influx of eco-tourists after the pandemic. As part of a larger community development effort, our funding focuses on aspects that would enable the Brokpas to preserve and meaningfully transfer their cultural heritage by improving income generation opportunities.

Activities on the ground include:

  • Providing tailoring machines and training to increase the productivity and marketability of weaving products;
  • Providing the material and supervision to build a Community Facility Center with the objective of facilitating training, sharing, collaboration and sales of local products and produce, and
  • Installing green houses for vegetable growing. This will not only fill the nutritional gap for the community members, but will also allow for increased income generation opportunities in the tourism sector.

The expected outcomes of our project include:

  • Preservation of traditional skills
  • Employment and economic empowerment for the community, especially women
  • Increased accessibility by tourists to local culture, handicrafts and produce
  • Enhanced peer-to-peer learning and support
  • Improved nutrition for the whole community
  • Increased capability in receiving and catering for tourists