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:
The expected outcomes of our project include: